A/N: “Bohemian Rhapsody” is, of course, by Queen. Not me. Not that where I took it resembles or reflects the timeless perfection of that insane piece of genius. It’s just what Torin Tyler would sing in this situation, and he’s very sadly, quite tone-deaf.
Lios woke alone, in only his pants, with a massive headache. The grey matter in his cranial cavity felt as though a platoon of Judoon had been using it for a kickabout while he was prone and unconscious. He wasn’t sure how he’d gotten tied down, or who had done it, let alone how he ended up on a stone slab in the dark room. The last he could recall with any certainty was the return walk by the stream outside town. He’d intended to find the Doctor. He’d eaten a bit more fruit, and just worked up enough nerve to lean in to, maybe, perhaps, kiss Clytie—Clytie!
Where was she? Was she being held captive as well? He swallowed nervously. Was she, too, in just her—no! He refused to allow himself to think in an ungentlemanly manner. If they had taken her dignity as well, he had absolutely no business trying to conjure mental images of it. He fervently hoped she was okay, and had gotten away from whatever this mess was that he’d managed to land himself in. He had to get out of this and find her! He had to make sure she was safe. If anything had happened to her because of him, how could he ever forgive himself?
Thankfully, remaining cool in the face of disaster was his forte. Lios was as stolid as they came when faced with the need, so he did not allow the rising tide of panic to drag him into its churning depths. Instead, he drew a slow breath, willed his adrenal response to slow to a halt, and fully assessed his plight.
First step: puzzle out his location. Once this had been assessed, he could proceed with a solution to his captivity.
He slowed his hearts, lengthened his breath, and closed his eyes to relax further into a meditative state. He let himself become hyper-aware of his nerve endings, trying to absorb the room with each sense, from the climate and moisture content of the air, to the exact number of lumens penetrating the near total darkness.
Making mental note of the directions from which each muffled noise emanated, he calculated how far from familiar sounds that placed him. From this, he extrapolated his relative position in spatial relation to the nearest potential exiting point.
He separated the new smells, like wood, crumbling marble, and the eighteen types of mould and damp dripping from the east wall, from the familiar that he’d noted on the street, like yeast, flour, sugar, figs and dates, straw, roses, clay soil, and fresh water.
Lastly, he fully opened his time senses to pinpoint timelines, and the number of those to whom they belonged. Above, and in all directions on his level of the structure, they were grouped, en masse. It was not a promising prospect. The largest concentrations resided directly above him, and, in a smaller number, ninety paces to his left.
Minute details merged with ambient, creating a clearer mental map of his location and predicament.
He had been unconscious for three hours, thirty-six minutes and three seconds. It had been six hours and thirteen minutes since they’d left the TARDIS, six hours and two minutes since he lost track of his brother and the Doctor, five hours and fifty-six minutes since he met Clytie, and it would be at least fifteen minutes – if he was very lucky, and the rough, hempen rope had a weak point – before he could work a limb free from his bindings. Also, he would have rope burns everywhere. Nasty ones. A minor side-note when one has been effectively kidnapped, and he knew his sister would chastise him for worrying about anything so trivial as a little physical discomfort, but he could never bring himself to ascribe to her “any one you walk away from” philosophy when it came to pain. He wouldn’t moan about it like his brother might, but he didn’t have to like it either.
He wished, for all the worlds in the many galaxies, that he had their sonic. Why was Torin always the one in charge of it? He’d most certainly be asking the Doctor to make him one when he got out of this and back to the TARDIS. This was bollocks.
The ropes were already cruelly biting into his flesh as he wriggled in his prostrate, vulnerable position. He bit his lip, and strained upward as he shifted side to side to fray the ropes on the edges of the stone anchoring him. It stretched marginally, allowing him only a tiny amount of give with which to work. He let out the breath he’d been holding, and collapsed back onto the cold slab for a moment. His skin was hotly protesting already, but he forced the feeling into a compartment deep within his recesses to keep it from interrupting his efforts.
This slight pause afforded him time to record a few observations he had either missed, or that hadn’t been there in his initial assessment.
Most notably, the faint singing trickling in from a nearby room.
Strange. He hadn’t felt a timeline from that direction.
He concentrated on the voice.
Male. Young. Familiar.
Also, utterly pissed.
After a few moments of concentration, he could properly hear him, and smirked. Even though Lios himself was practically naked, and in far more trouble than he cared to admit, he’d never let Torin live this one down.
“Noo–‘scaape fr’mm reeealiteeeee. Ooopnyerrreeeeeyyyyeeeezzz lukuhptoooo thskiiieeeszz aaaannnn seeeeeeeeeeee! IIII’m jusssa poooor booooy! IIII neeeenooo syym-paaath-eeeeee.”
He thanked whomever or whatever watched over him and his family for this moment. Silently promising himself to project the performance to his brother and sister every chance he got, he pushed the distraction into another compartment alongside the burning pain, and went back to struggling against his restraints while the oblivious Torin crooned.
“Ummeeeeeezeeee comeeeeeeeeezeeeeee gooooo. Liiiiddle hiiiyyy liiiddleohhh!”
Lios felt a capillary break in his right eye, but strained harder.
“Dooozzen reeeeeaaallyyy maaaaaaaaddddeeerrr toooo meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!”
His respiratory bypass kicked in, and he felt a trickle of warm blood run down his arm.
“TooooooOOooooooo meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Evvvvvrybuddy!”
He fell back again, panting. Every muscle burned with the exertion, but he forced himself to try again until his muscles gave out once more. So very little progress had been made, but he wouldn’t despair.
“Aaannneeeeeeewaaayyy thaawiiinn blloooohhhzzz—no diddat biddawlreddy. OOIII! GODANNYMORRATHAFROOTAY? OOOOOOIIIII! OOOOOOOOOOOIIIIIIIIIIIYYYYYUH!”
Ignoring that his head and skin felt like they were on fire, and that he could no longer keep it in its neat little box inside his brain, Lios pushed himself, and the cords restraining him, once again. This time, he was rewarded with a small, gratifying snap that thankfully did not come from one of his bones. He allowed himself a small break as a reward. It would take longer than he’d hoped, and he needed to pace himself.
Footsteps hurriedly sounded in the hall on his left. They moved toward him, then passed, and continued to where Torin was squawking.
“Fyyymm nnaawwbbaaack aaaggeeen—oh, ellodere! Finelee commuh join meyay? Dyou noduh one thagoes—”
He heard scuffling and grunts, followed by a pained yelp, then a loud thump, and began to struggle even harder against his bonds.
He had to get to his brother. Nothing about the muffled altercation spelled good news, especially since Torin could annoy the hell out of anyone when he put his mind to it, and, well, if Torin had been singing the Bohemian Rhapsody that badly for the last few hours, he honestly didn’t know of what it would make even him, for all his patience and love of the git, capable. Then again, whenever Torin sang, he yearned for deafness. At least these people didn’t have to live with it.
Nothing for it. He was out of time. Torin’s safety superseded physical discomfort. He’d have to dislocate one or both shoulders to create enough room to work an arm free. He steadily (and painfully) wriggled into a position which would give him the leverage he needed. Ignoring the bleeding sores on his chest and arms as well as he could, he took a deep breath, counting down from five.
Before he made it to three, however, he heard rusty hinges give a laboured creak as the metal door opened slightly, allowing a shaft of light to penetrate like a knife through the thick darkness. The figure silhouetted in the doorway tentatively inspected the room.
He feigned unconsciousness. It would never do to have his captors get close enough to see him bleeding, and work out that he was attempting an escape. He hoped instead to allay suspicions enough that whoever it was would go away without moving any farther into the room.
Torin! Oh, thank God! Brilliant! How had he gotten free? He had the cleverest family in all of existence, didn’t he?
“Oi,” he called as loudly as he dared, “you stupid-arsed, bloody beautiful git. I’ve never been so happy to see your tone-deaf, bampot face! But don’t just gawk at me gob-struck! Shut up and come untie me!” he whispered fervently.
Torin swayed into the room, and started tugging at the ropes binding his younger sibling. The welts and cuts stung and burned as Torin tugged. Lios had to bite his lip to swallow the grunts of pain that threatened to escape.
“Trusstup like a… er… what? Oh, yeah… yer tieddup!” He slurred into the silence with fumbling, leaden limbs and a goofy grin.
Li heard a whirring noise moments before the cruel ropes finally lost all tension, and he let out an involuntary moan of relief.
“Properly inebriated then? You weren’t faking? How did that even happen?”
He gingerly touched the most tender areas on his shoulders. They were still oozing, and needed attention, but he didn’t much care for the idea of cannibalising his pants for bandages, and running around starkers while they legged it. He noticed that Torin, too, was in only his pants. It presented problems. Well, more problems, they had a fair few already, but flying under the radar was always more complicated without clothing, and doubly so when two were attempting. Somehow, he doubted very much that streaking male aliens were a commonplace occurrence here.
And, to top it off, one of them was pissed. Totally pissed. Three sheets and all sense with it pissed.
“And, just how did you get out on your own?”
Torin grinned almost lazily, and held up the sonic. “Hiddit—er—yeah – wheney firs’ goddaolda me. Don’ ask.” His grin abruptly disappeared. It was rapidly replaced with a look Lios knew well. Torin often wore it when he’d taken something apart and needed to blow the evidence out an airlock. “An’ if you bloody tell one word to th’Alpha ‘bouddit, I will destroy you.“
The last bit came out remarkably clear, and Lios had to choke back his laughter to focus.
“How long do you think before the one you took out is missed?”
“Never mind,” he breathed impatiently, “we just need to get moving. They’ll miss all of us sooner than later,” he muttered sagely, “and we need to sober you up,” he added almost as an afterthought.
Torin’s altered state was hilarious, if complicating, and he was almost loath to see the spectacle end. Especially without his sister around to witness enough to take the piss for a few centuries.
“‘S tha frooot,” Torin proclaimed in a loud voice, making Lios wince and throw cautionary gestures at the intoxicated Time Lord. Torin liked the way the last word rolled off his tongue, and felt in his teeth. “Gesya righ’ tosst. Good, innit? Shood takeabit insm pockets fer eatin later. Coobe nice wifout ropesn… ’S’all tha froot.” He knocked away the hands trying to gain his attention, and stumbled a few feet backward. “Makes yer brain fuzzy an’ yer eazyer to ‘nvade. Thinkiss smade—grown fer tellpaths ‘cifictally.” He touched his head to indicate. “‘S tha ony reason tha’ scrubba wasn’ careful. K’n metab’lise though.” He grinned and gave a wobbly bow, impressed with his own superior make-up. “Juss needa onion few gherk’ns, maybe piggled onions’ood work too, a bitta beethroot an’ a cuppla dates. Be me sortedenall.”
“First,” Lios redirected softly, “we need clothes. Anything we can find. The Alpha would go mental if we ran around with our arms exposed like this.”
Torin’s glazed eyes cleared a moment as he gazed down thoughtfully at the Circular Gallifreyan that graced his right forearm in swirling gold.
Lios spoke again before he lost him to drunken ponderings of the great mysteries of life. “Maybe we should—er—go take the clothes off the one you… what did you do anyway?”
Torin shrugged and pointed at his forehead. “She’s jus sleepin. Screamed realoud in’ere till she brokeabit ‘n suhgessed she ‘ava kip. Be outta while yet, I reckon.”
“Oh, that is brilliant!” The Omega got to his feet, and pulled his stumbling brother to the door. “Totally brilliant! Completely pissed, and still dangerous. Utterly brilliant,” he whispered with not a little pride.
The curly-haired brother grinned sheepishly and preened as they crept down the hallway to where he had been kept.
“Can’t you do something about the light?”
“Erm… dunno… lemme feelawall…”
“No, you idiot – gimme the sonic! You can’t have it back until after you’ve metabolised all that! Honestly!“ He set the gadget and pointed it at the ceiling. “You’ve got the brains to figure out an escape, but turning on a light eludes you? Really.”
The room lightened, and they looked down at the unconscious, old woman.
“R’we reeeally takin’ her dress’en, eh?”
“Got to. Can’t run around in our pants! We’ll be nabbed straight away! It’s just until we find our clothes, or something better. Reckon anyone here would recognise Gallifreyan?” he posed half-heartsedly, eyeing his Torin’s right arm then glancing at his own left, knowing the answer already.
Torin shrugged and leaned against the door jamb to steady himself. “Sposets better not tarisk it.”
“Who… who goes then?”
Torin blinked at him.
“I mean,” he clarified, “who—er—takes her—er—c-clothes. Off. Who goes?“
The Beta stared blearily at his brother, then examined and prodded at the wood grain of the door frame. “I putturout. Di’my bit. You can do thizbit.”
Lios glowered, but strode in and set about the task with no further hesitation. Once he had divested her of the garment, he split it down the middle with a loud tear, giving each of them a sizable rectangle to tie about their shoulders like togas. Wrong culture, sure, but better than patterned cotton boxers and a prayer. Then he fished about in her wispy sashes for a couple that were not totally sheer, and wrapped them like bandages around his and Torin’s arms.
“Sorted then… Should we—er—I feel like an arse leaving her like this…”
“‘Oo cares? She tried ta break inta my’ead! Commonen! Erm… Wanna havapoke’boutabit firs? I mean, ‘fore we go.”
“I have to find Clytie, so yeah.”
Torin cocked his head, and Lios shrugged. Then Torin grinned slowly while his brother blushed furiously.
“Yeah? She fit?”
The younger only punched the older on the arm as a reply.
“Ooouuf! Prat! Less fine yer girl.”
The Doctor and the Alpha were nearing the TARDIS, and they’d still had no sign of Jack, the Beta, or the Omega. She was frustrated, and he was… distracted. The Doctor loved a good mystery, and not even his concern for their elusive companions could sway him from solving the puzzle the society of ageless females presented.
It was passing midday, the air was stiflingly humid, and the streets were empty. Where it had been thronging only minutes before, the bazaar was now eerily silent, empty of even those peddling wares.
No longer unnoticed in the anonymity of crowded streets, and steadily becoming convinced that they were facing some actual danger, the Doctor kept them skulking in byways, and skirting low to the ground around merchant stalls. The last thing he wanted was to attract undue attention before he’d figured out a way to sort the mess on this planet. He would pilot the TARDIS directly into one of the inner cities… and maybe glance at the history text the Alpha mentioned.
He could fix it. She could help. They would find her brothers. Then back to the TARDIS, and on to anywhere that wasn’t here. He didn’t want to stick around for the clean-up. The mess was too big, and he couldn’t envision a future where everything was completely back to normal. Not to mention, he didn’t fancy the awkward conversations surrounding his race and their involvement in all this. No, he just wanted to fix it and go.
In an, albeit unexpected, twist of fate, Selene Tyler’s company was proving more pleasant than he’d anticipated. Bratty and bossy behaviour seemed to have been abandoned in the face of their circumstances. She wasn’t friendly, but they hadn’t rowed, and she was following his orders. She was quick to wordlessly point out irregularity, and he could appreciate her instinctual ability to melt into her surroundings. In essence, she was an asset as an adventuring companion, and he could better appreciate her as such. It made him want to… connect? a bit more so he searched for something relevant to say.
“You’re little,” he remarked lamely as the girl crouched easily in the shadows below him. “Small-ish. Not so much of a hulking brute.”
The Alpha scowled. “…Cheers?”
Her skin was pricking with anxiety, and she was on high alert. Her wonted manner may have been shoved aside for the sake of necessity, but stupid comments would never curry her favour. She brushed it off, and tried to smile instead. It came out as a grimace that, nonetheless, encouraged the elder Time Lord.
He made sure the coast was clear, grabbed her hand, and dashed across a small bridge over a sparkling canal. “Well,” he insisted, “I mean, you’re always all imposing and gruff with the loudness, and the layer after layer of dark clothing. Then you cover them all in leather and eyebrows.”
Leather and Eyebrows! He’d use that often.
“You—er—look okay like this.” Was this even helping at all? He wasn’t sure, but he wanted her to know she was acceptable however she chose to be. Other companions liked compliments, even if he was rubbish at dispensing them. “Not soft, or feminine, I mean – and forget ever being called warm or cuddly. But you wouldn’t want that, would you? I guess what I’m saying is, you can do what you like. You don’t have to hide in your clothes. You’re fine. Not weird, or monstrous. Girls like to hear all this nonsense, right?”
She rolled her eyes, shot her foot out fluidly to trip him and left him where he fell, a gangling pile of limbs and grunted curses.
“Blimey, you’re still abusive. I’m trying to be nice to you!” he accused in a furious whisper when he caught up to where she was crouching and scanning the street for the next place to take cover.
“Doctor,” she rubbed at her face, and addressed him as if he were a hopeless case in need of serious guidance, “not all girls wanna be told they’re pretty.”
She turned to look at him, and couldn’t help chuckling at his bemused frustration. He was trying, and she could give him that, even if he had no idea how to relate to her yet. And, in fairness, that wasn’t his fault. She did avoid his company as much as possible. Perhaps, a small concession would be harmless. It wasn’t as though she was welcoming him into her confidences.
“Stop tryin’ so hard. If it sounds like nonsense to you, I’ll prob’ly think it’s completely ridiculous, alright?”
“Oh, well, I certainly wasn’t telling you you’re pretty.”
“Just littler than I thought.”
“Not so much heavy machinery and motor grease. With muscles. And hitting. And stone-throwing.” Her expression clouded further with every word, but he could see the twinkle of mirth underneath she was trying to cover. It encouraged him once again. “That’s all a façade, isn’t it?”
“No,” she responded in a matter-of-fact tone without the usual traces of anger or annoyance, “I do all those things, don’t I? But, well, some people have a hard time takin’ me seriously otherwise. You look hard right off, an’ you don’t have to faff about provin’ you’re hard to any idiots who’ll walk all over girls, jus’ ‘cos they’re girls.” It was an old hurt, but one that continued to factor in nearly every society. The ability to prove herself without proving herself was a valuable trick.
“Always with the shoulder, and the chip, and the scowling.” He playfully pushed her gold-painted shoulder, managing to unbalance himself more than the crouching young Time Lady. “I find it hard to believe anyone could look at you and not believe you capable of obliterating them, whatever you’re in.”
“You didn’t,” she challenged with a glance.
“Oh, I thought you’d try.” He grinned, lazily waving a hand about as though the idea were simply an annoying little midge. “I just knew I was harder. I’ve no reason for people to know it by looking at me. Doesn’t exactly inspire trust, does it? I’ve survived wars, and maniacs, and despots, and so many ends of existence, it’s hardly funny. No young woman in a snit is going to intimidate me. The Oncoming Storm and Destroyer of Worlds, me. You’re just the Destroyer of All That is Fun and Happy.”
“Oi! Always takin’ the piss. Keep it up, pensioner. Let’s put tha’ theory to the test then.”
He grabbed her hand with a delighted smile, and they sprinted to the next alleyway.
“I hate long skirts,” she whinged as a trailing bit got caught under her sandal and ripped away. “I can see why you can’t be bothered.”
She was starting to look knackered. Her skirt was shredding everywhere from all the running and crouching, and the bit she’d wrapped on her arm no longer looked like decoration, instead resembling a ragged, silver bandage. She’d bin it all when they reached home. The Alpha vaguely wondered if the TARDIS would be annoyed by the destruction of the costume she’d provided.
“No, Dum-dum, disguises. Didn’t last half a day, this.”
She was quiet as they slipped between the stands in the bazaar. Then, without preamble, she offered thoughtfully, “My last face was a bit more difficult to make convincin’. Easier to charm with though, tha’ one. This body is better at intimidation than charm. Funny tha’, innit? They can be tha’ different?”
He nodded, a bit gobsmacked that she willingly divulged bits of her past. “Had a body that loved a good karate chop once. Well, I say karate, but it was Venusian Aikido. Wasn’t half bad, and it came in handy. Be stupid to even try it now. Did you know you’d regenerate? That you could?”
“No.” Her face clamped down like a steel trap.
The Doctor nodded again, carefully keeping his face impassive, but let the implication of the negative go otherwise unremarked upon. “Were you okay?”
She didn’t look at him, only stonily surveyed the scene.
When the words finally came, they seemed to spill out in an uncontrollable, uncharacteristic flood. “Not really. Got sick for ’bout a week, an’ was in a coma for the first three days of it. We’d no idea wha’ to do, you know? My brothers were mad with worry, an’ the TARDIS was dyin’. They woke me up early, an’ we fixed it, but I was… I dunno wha’ I was. I wasn’t sure who I was. I mean I knew I was me, jus’ everythin’ was different. I was afraid to look in a mirror. I was yellin’ at Torin an’ Li all the time. I was scared. And, everythin’ hurt. I nearly passed out over an’ over for the first few days, an’ I didn’t know if tha’ was how it was always gonna be. Sorry, jus’… I dunno anyone else who’s been through it.”
“Yeah,” she nodded once, and studied her silvery sandals, “among other things. Tea wasn’t enough, but tha’ was all we knew to do, yeah? From stories. But it didn’t work.” She fingered her sashes uncomfortably. “Free radicals an’ tannins are great, but they don’t help when you can hardly breathe.”
He sighed as guilt tugged at his gut. Her respiratory system and bypass had failed as well then. Most likely total lung collapse of one or both lobes, and a blocked laryngeal connection to the reserve. It would’ve been excruciating.
“I’m sorry you were alone for that.”
“I wasn’t.” She eyed him in earnest confusion. “My brothers were there for me.”
“I mean, I’m sorry that all of you were alone for that.”
“Oh.” She closed herself off once again.
“Just, ‘oh?'” The regression was disappointing. Perhaps he’d gone too far for her comfort, but all he’d offered was the truth, and his empathy.
“Yes. Just, ‘oh.’ Look, bad time to have this chat, innit?” she huffed, reverting back to her impatient irascibility in totality. She didn’t want the Doctor’s pity, and she didn’t want to feel… whatever she was feeling.
“You started it.”
“God, you’re a child.”
“Did you hear that?” He interrupted her sullen thoughts, and perked at some sound she’d missed in her reverie.
She listened for a moment, trying to focus on the one sense in the multitude, then heard the melodious chorus of voices the Doctor had caught.
“Wha’…? Wha’re they doin’ then, d’you think?”
The Doctor rolled his eyes but didn’t answer. He was weighing his options.
He took in the temple across from where they were skulking.
He looked at the young woman posing as an Olympian.
He considered her dishevelled appearance, and made a decision.
It was possible she wasn’t going to like it, and cause a fuss, but they needed into the inner cities, and what better way than a teleport? This assured he wouldn’t miss the landing – though he’d never admit to anyone, he often worried about such things as his driving being anything but impeccable – and he could have a good, first-hand look at exactly what might’ve happened to Torin and Lios. And, if her brothers had been sent in already, it was his best chance at finding them quickly. She could get herself back to the TARDIS once they separated, he was almost positive.
The approaching voices grew in volume, though they were still out of sight.
“Selene, I need you to trust me and do exactly as I say. Can you do that?”
“Oi! Don’t call me tha’,” she rolled her eyes, and shook her head. “You’re getting yourself caught.”
She’d known by the look on his face, and the way he’d studied her what he intended. Well, bully for him if that’s what he wanted, so long as he came back with those they were looking for.
“Yeah, I can. Get my boys back. I mean it. I’ll infiltrate here then.”
“Didn’t even have to ask you.” He beamed. “Get back to the TARDIS as soon as you can.”
“What do you mean ‘then wha’?'”
“Then don’t wander off! Stay there until I come back!”
“You’re mental. Tha’s never happenin’.” She folded her arms, and planted her feet petulantly.
“Look,” he almost pleaded in exasperation and weariness. Children! Honestly! “I can’t be running around after you lot all the time! Someone has to stay where I can find them again! It’s like herding cats with you three!”
“Four,” she corrected, “Jack’s runnin’ about too. But shut up! No! I will not stay in the TARDIS. I’ll find a way in after you!”
“Women aren’t allowed, Selene!”
“Shut up callin’ me tha’! An’ when has somethin’ like tha’ ever stopped you, eh?”
“Pay attention, Tyler, here they come!” He pulled on her hand, dragging her to the marble stairs leading up to the temple. “Look upset!”
“Pfft. Not much of a stretch, innit?”
“Just yell and shout at me a lot! Should be second nature! When you’re all Leather and Eyebrows you’re shouting at everyone constantly! I think I’m going to make it a rule that you have to be in skirts all the time if it cows you this much!”
“BLOODY TOSSER! WHY D’YOU HAVE TO BE A BLEEDIN’ ARSE ALL THE TIME, EH? LET GO OF ME! GOD! YOU’RE THE WORST! This okay then? An’ leather and eyebrows? Who’re you to—”
“Perfect,” he cut in. “Maybe you should fall or something.”
“Wha’? Just fall?” She shot him an incredulous look. “No, no, push me. Make it believable, at least!”
He half-heartsedly pushed one shoulder, and she launched herself to the ground with a piercing shriek, letting herself roll down a few stairs. He barely suppressed a grin at the theatrics. She too was having a hard time keeping a straight face, and he didn’t dare look her in the eyes for fear that they’d both break.
The crowd was nearly upon them, each woman carrying an amphora or a basket of golden fruit. The women in the front had stopped their singing, and were holding hands and whispering to each other.
“Doctor, you should yell back!” she hissed up at him from her prone position. “HOW DARE YOU PUT YOUR HANDS ON ME AN’ HURT ME! YOU HORRID, HORRID MAN!”
“What am I supposed to say?”
“You shout at me all the time too! Think of somethin’ or make it up! NO! NO! JUST STAY AWAY FROM ME NOW! DON’T YOU TRY TO HURT ME AGAIN!”
“YOU’RE A SNEAKY LITTLE TERROR AND YOU ORDER EVERYONE ABOUT! COME NEAR ME AGAIN AND YOU’LL GET WORSE!”
She started to laugh, it was too much, and whimpered to cover it, but the fit of mirth quickly got out of hand, and she couldn’t continue shouting, so she feigned tears and kept her head in her arms until they were surrounded.
The Doctor rounded on the mob in feigned surprise, jumping a little as he startled and gasped.
“Oh, hello, ladies! Why so cross?” The Doctor smiled cheekily.
The Doctor was shoved into a small, blank room – though why they had to shove was beyond him. He’d gone along willingly enough to be suspicious, in his opinion. And, why wouldn’t he? They were sending him, if he was right – and he very nearly always was – to the Capitol City of Apollo Zephyrus. The very city from which he’d made his last escape when he’d been there. It was a funny old life. Good though, that. He wouldn’t have to get his bearings much – so long as it hadn’t drastically changed in a few hundred years. But then, Olympians didn’t often make significant changes, and when they did, it certainly took a very long time. Such slow progress was one of the occupational hazards of being extremely long-lived – though of course, they were currently living in a gender segregated society, and that really was a big – monumental even – change, and not at all what one would have predicted before whatever went wrong—er—went wrong. The point was that he was relatively certain, sort of, that he’d at least have an idea of the place. Roughly.
He felt the air charge and prickle at his skin, and knew they’d started up the teleport.
He materialised in a similar blank, white room, and waited (as patiently as the Doctor ever could) for guards to come fetch him. Meaning, he paced and fidgeted for seven minutes and eighteen seconds, with not even a hint of sound emergent, before deciding to take it upon himself to make his presence known.
He grinned and pulled out his sonic. He unlocked the door easily and stepped out with confidence. If he pretended he wasn’t a prisoner, maybe no one would question it.
What met him was an empty, plain marble corridor with another bronze door at the end. That door was unlocked, and, as he pulled it open, he pulled out his psychic paper, just in case.
However, he wasn’t prepared for what lay beyond.
The city was in ruins. Marble lay chunked and strewn about everywhere in sizes ranging from that of a fist, to entire columns which looked like they’d been thrown like so many useless matchsticks. Gold ornamentation was torn and blackened, or melted, but in peculiar patterns. Cut by lasers rather than burned in a large-scale fire or explosion. Everything was overgrown with creeping ivy, and all mouldering as if the war-zone had been abandoned for centuries.
And, abandoned was the magic word, wasn’t it?
Where were the men? What had happened here? Why was he transported to an empty ruin? Didn’t the women know that this inner city was destroyed and empty? And what were those vibrations he was feeling?
He bent, took out his sonic again, and was about to scan a marble block to his right, when he heard echoing footsteps moving quickly in his direction. He looked up and saw a shorter Olympian male in red, hurtling toward him at break-neck speed.
“Doc!” the man yelled. “Run!”
“Harkness?” How in the devil? – It was that moment the Doctor noticed what was chasing Jack.
And, oh… it was not good. Absolutely gorgeous and utterly incredible, but very extremely not good.
Death engines, the Alpha had said. The Titans. This was a Titan.