The officer checked his instruments. There was a longstanding warrant for the arrest of one who had insulted the authorities. He had been given a great opportunity, only to throw it back in the leader's face.
The criminal would not get away this time. The officer was known for being obedient and relentless. True, he might have been a bit early on the initiative, but he was certain that the formalities would be done in due time.
Saturday, September 17, 2411
Beiwiru, Nekomikoka, Tomodachi
15:45 hrs Nekomi Standard Time
Don and Kitty Griffin were agape. They weren't often in this state, given the varied adventures that they had shared. However, four of their friends had just come back from a most unusual escapade. Then again, with the Doctor, Rose, Doc and Keriyn, it was pretty much bound to happen.
"So here we are," Doc said, gesturing excitedly, "We're in the Empire State Building, in Doc Savage's office itself. We've got Long Tom on the right, Renny on the left, and Johnny behind us. Thankfully, Ham and Monk aren't there--which was good, because I might have stunned one of them to get the other to shut up. In front of us is the big guy himself."
"You're kidding me," Don said. "Dare I ask how all four of you got in there?"
"It's amazing what a little psychic paper can do to open doors," the Doctor said with a grin. "As far as anybody was concerned, I was John J. Smith with Interpol hunting for some arms dealers."
"It didn't work on Savage, though," Rose pointed out. "As it turns out, he really is a genius. He did have old-fashioned views, though." She gestured to her leather coat and the Union Jack shirt she was wearing. "He really didn't take to my look."
"Well, it was New York in 1940," Doc reminded her. "Personally, I didn't care for the fact that he and his cohorts were giving me the hairy eyeball."
"Yeah, it probably wasn't the best time period," Don agreed. "So, all four of you managed to arrive there for a vacation?"
"I just invited Rose for deep-dish pizza," the Doctor said. "I thought we'd pop by Pizzeria Uno in Chicago for a bite, then head out."
"So, of course, his TARDIS sends us to the land of thin-crust," Rose said somewhat archly. "Are you sure you don't want to have someone look at her? Nobody's going to replace the old girl, but it wouldn't hurt to work out the quirks and kinks."
"Oi, I like her quirky and kinky!" the Doctor exclaimed. Then he looked around awkwardly as everyone restrained their laughter. "Right, I am never saying that again."
"No comment," Rose said with a smirk.
Don clapped his hands together. "ANYway, you guys said something earlier about futuristic weapons?"
"As it turns out, someone had been using bums for target practice, blaster burns and all. I think that the hardware might have been from the old GENOM regime before Larry took over."
"How did they get there?" Don asked.
Doc looked a bit uncomfortable. "They had research from one very dangerous project. Keri and I are two of the only known survivors from that. But, there might have been others." He changed the subject. "Obviously, we couldn't go to the cops with this, so that's why we needed Doc Savage's help," Doc said. "None of us knew the city like he did, and he also had the resources. I would've preferred Kent Allard's help, but he'd been dead a few years at that time."
"It was only a flesh wound," Keriyn joked.
"A flesh wound?! He was dead!" Doc exclaimed.
"He came back, didn't he?"
"Can we focus a little, please?" Don asked. "Anyway, you're in Doc Savage's office and you're not doing well. What happened next?"
"He asked the Doctor the one question that everybody does," Rose said.
"Who are you?" Clark Savage, Jr. asked. His bronzed, sculpted features were set in a frown as he eyed his friends. They stood ready just in case these strange arrivals were a threat. "Give me the truth this time, please."
"I'm the Doctor," the man in the brown suit said simply.
The Doctor's expression grew intense. There were lives at stake, and this man was asking for a resume. Well, he wanted the truth.
"I'm a Time Lord," he intoned, ignoring Rose's dismay next to him. "I'm from the planet Gallifrey in the constellation of Kasterberous. I'm over 900 years old and I'm one of the people who is going to save you, and all 2.5 billion people on this planet from blowing yourselves up." The Doctor glared at Savage. "You have a problem with that?"
Savage shook his head. "As far as I can tell, `the Doctor' is a title bestowed upon various individuals at different points in time. The only things they have in common are a tendency to attract trouble, the inclination to protect humanity and a blue box."
The Doctor nodded. "Yup, that would be me."
"Definitely him," Rose agreed readily.
"So, you're the current holder of the title?" Savage asked.
"No, they're all me," the Doctor said cheekily. "All ten versions that you know of are me."
"Even the man with the brown curls and the scarf?" Savage asked.
The Doctor rolled his eyes. "Blimey, everyone remembers old Teeth and Curls and the scarf. Yes, that's me."
Savage's frown deepened. "Are you insane?"
The Doctor's mood shifted suddenly as he grinned. He held up a finger.
"That discussion usually takes a few minutes." He faced Rose. "Rose, am I insane?"
Rose appeared to give the idea some consideration as she tapped her chin. "Well, from a certain perspective, you are functioning at a different
level than most. As for being outright frothing in the mind insane, you've definitely come close."
The Doctor arched an eyebrow. "Really? When was this?"
"Do we actually have time to be listing them out?" Rose asked. Savage did not look impressed from behind his desk.
"No, really, I'm curious," the Doctor insisted. "Give me one example of how close I've come to being insane."
"How about every time you look at a monster that's trying to kill us and say it's beautiful? I mean, it started with the werewolf and it just got odder from there."
"From an anatomical standpoint, it was beautiful!" he exclaimed. He held up a finger. "All right, give me one more example."
"How about every time you walk towards an explosion instead of running away?"
"But that's where the fun is!"
Doc Savage cleared his throat meaningfully. Even his patience had limits.
"I believe that conversation just answered my question: All of you are insane," he concluded.
"Well, some people call him a madman with a box," Doc joked.
"And what do they call you?" Savage asked.
"I like to think of myself as the mildly wacky guy with the car," he replied.
"What does that make us?" Keriyn asked, gesturing to herself and Rose.
It was at this time that feelings of self-preservation surged through both Doc and the Doctor. Life-threatening danger was transitory, but annoyance from the significant other could be omnipresent. You did not argue or annoy people with total grievance recall, especially ones with an eidetic memory. There was only one possible answer that wouldn't land them in the figurative doghouse.
The two time-traveling doctors shared a glance and nodded. As one, they faced their respective significant others and gave their answer:
"Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant!" they chorused enthusiastically.
Don wasn't even trying to hold back the laughter. Kitty was trying very hard not to spew tea through her nose. Rose and Keriyn looked fairly pleased with themselves.
"Well, what else could we have said?" the Doctor asked. "It was truthful and complimentary, catering to not only stunning good looks but intellect as well!"
"That, and 'hot immortal life partner' just didn't send the right message," Doc added.
Kitty weakly pointed an accusatory finger at Doc. She was still giggling. "You should take your act on the road sometime."
"I'm a doctor, not a straight man," Doc protested. Then he noticed the amused looks on everyone else's face. He hung his head in mock-shame.
"Et tu, Keri?" he asked.
She patted him affectionately on the shoulder. "Don't take it personally, Pearson," she said gently. "Occasionally, we all need one constant to rely on."
"Gee, thanks," he replied dourly, but he was smiling.
Kitty checked the teapot and nodded. "Well, I think that's it for this pot," she declared. "I'm going to brew another batch."
Keriyn stood up and produced a box from her purse. She offered it to Kitty.
"Given that we're going to be talking for a bit longer," Keriyn began, "I thought that you might want to try something different."
Kitty examined the box. "'Honeybark tea'?" she read aloud. "Is this a Salusian mix?"
Keriyn nodded. "It's my second favorite after Darjeeling. It's great for soothing throats." She gave a meaningful glance at both her husband
and the Doctor. "Somehow, I think we'll need it soon."
Kitty grinned. "Then we'd better get started. We don't want to miss all the good stuff."
That accomplished, everyone sat down as the tea steeped. The atmosphere was one of jovial anticipation. This particular story was a lot more entertaining than playing Charades.
"So," Don began, "How'd you guys manage to get out of that fix?"
"A higher power intervened," Rose said cheekily.
Savage's compatriots approached the party warily. The four intruders were obviously crazy, but they didn't seem the least bit concerned. They didn't even seem to be putting up any sort of resistance.
Their approach was halted by a wheezing, grinding sound. All eyes turned to the Doctor as he held up a finger.
"Hold on," he said cheerfully, "that would be mine."
"Your what?" Savage asked, curious.
Doc buried his face in his palms. "Aw, for - you put that sound as your ringtone?"
"'Ringtone'?" Savage repeated.
"For my mobile," the Doctor explained, although this was hardly enlightening to Savage and his friends. "It's guaranteed to get my attention."
"Yes, but you hear that sound all the time!" Doc pointed out.
The Doctor grinned as he pulled out his mobile phone. He was amused that Savage and his men backed off slightly.
"Oh relax," he said breezily, "it's just my phone."
"Johnny" Littlejohn leaned in closely, a jeweler's loupe over one eye. He briefly scrutinized the device.
"This Lilliputian device actually conveys communications?" 'Johnny' asked in disbelief.
"Size matters not," Doc joked. Everyone looked at him, their expressions ranging from vague annoyance to mild confusion. "It's easier than carrying a phone booth."
"Truthfully, the booth carries me," the Doctor said, returning his attention to his phone. His expression changed to that of curiosity when he checked the caller ID. Rose leaned in close and shared his puzzled look.
"Romana?" she asked. "Does she usually call you?"
"Not like this, no." He accepted the call and tried to sound nonchalant. "Romana! What a surprise!"
Savage tilted his head slightly. It was as if he were trying to remember something. The Doctor took note of it.
"Sorry, this may be a bad time," the Doctor continued. "Yes, I know that it always seems like a bad time, but we're in the middle - yes, I said `we.' No, I'm not talking about royalty." He paused and grimaced. "Yes, I apologized to Bess a long time ago, but that's not where we are."
"'Bess'?" Keriyn asked quietly.
"Elizabeth the First," Doc replied in the same voice. "It got complicated."
"Dare I ask why he mentioned that to you?" Keriyn sounded dubious.
Doc shrugged. "We've both done stupid things when we were heartbroken. I could relate - sort of."
"Yes, we're in New York, 1940," the Doctor said, carrying out his one-sided conversation. "Why yes, we are talking to the talented, brilliant, and obstinate Doctor Clark Savage, Junior." The Doctor emphasized that last word to voice his annoyance with the situation. Then he blinked in astonishment. "Sorry, you want to talk to him?" He nodded as he handed the phone to Savage. "She wants to talk to you. Says you have a bit of explaining to do. If I were you, mate, I'd run."
"I'm not afraid of many things," Savage said in a composed tone. Then he held up the phone to his ear. "This is Clark Savage, Junior. To whom am I speaking?"
"Better back up, everyone," the Doctor muttered. "This conversation could get messy."
"Are you speaking from personal experience?" Rose teased him.
The Doctor nodded enthusiastically. "Oh, yes!"
"I'm sorry," Savage said dubiously, "I find it difficult to believe that you are the same--" He blinked at Romana's response, something that nobody else heard. His expression became one of utter shock, something that unsettled almost everyone in the room. "That was twenty years ago, and I had things to attend to. It was the best thing for both of us to - "
Savage's companions had simultaneously taken a step back as their leader actually flinched. Even the normally articulate and loquacious "Johnny" Littlejohn was at a loss for words - even little ones.
"I had hoped that you wouldn't have brought that issue up," Savage said, sounding utterly mortified. He decided to change the subject. "We've obviously verified your credentials. Can you possibly vouch for this `Doctor' and his friends? They claim to be hunting anachronistic weaponry - yes, I'm serious. I'm always serious about -no, I'd rather you not bring that up, please. I admit that it was not one of my better moments." Savage listened quietly for a few seconds, his eyes growing wide. "I find that hard to - all right, all right, I believe you. Just please don't bring that up again. I have the utmost respect for your - I'm sorry?"
"Bet you five quid that Romana had him where it counts," the Doctor whispered to Rose.
"No bet," Rose whispered back. She was trying very hard not to smirk at Savage's obvious discomfort.
"Would it satisfy you to know that I intend to aid the Doctor in whatever capacity I can?" Savage deflated ever so slightly in relief. "Excellent. I hope that this goes towards our making amends." The man of bronze swallowed hard. "When do you plan to visit? I do keep a very busy - yes, it's the nature of my work. No, I am not trying to avoid you. I believe the Doctor requires his phone back. I'll turn it over to him - yes, I admit that it was immature of me to do that. All right, thank you."
"All right," Kitty said, practically on the edge of her seat. "I've got to know: What did Romana have over Savage?"
The Doctor grinned with delight. "Keep in mind that Clark was a product of his time. He was raised to be the height of mental and physical perfection. Sadly, his renaissance man attitude did not extend to women or minorities."
Don nodded. "All right, I can understand that. So, where does Romana fit into this?"
"She was the first woman he was ever even mildly interested in," the Doctor replied. "Clark thought of her as a possible intellectual equal and asked to bounce some theories off of her. This was actually quite gracious of him, mind you.
"She went out with him... and then proceeded to do the worst thing possible to him: She emasculated him on the intellectual level. I think that the words 'myopic,' 'misogynistic,' 'parochial' and 'hidebound' may have been thrown about. To put it simply, she grabbed him by the frontal lobe and squeezed. She then challenged him to a battle of intellect the next week. He never showed up."
"Ouch," Don grimaced. "Yeah, Romana doesn't tolerate being condescended to."
The Doctor suppressed a shudder. "You haven't seen her on a real tear. It's easy to understand how she ruined poor Clark for all other women to come."
"So, you obviously got the job done?" Kitty asked.
"After the initial friction, we got along quite well," the Doctor replied. "Once you got past that aloof, somewhat dated exterior, he really was a brilliant man. He knew exactly which of his compatriots would have been most helpful. We definitely couldn't have done it alone."
"And we had something else going along the side. We met a Japanese intelligence agent by the name of Moto. Funny thing was he wanted the weapons destroyed, too." Doc shrugged.
"Hold on," Don said. He sounded confused. "That doesn't make sense. Wouldn't he have wanted the advantage?"
"The way he explained it," Keriyn said, "he was more for diplomatic means and manifest destiny rather than force of arms. In his viewpoint, Japan would take over the world anyway. The weapons only stood for unnecessary bloodshed. He kept the more militaristic factions out of the loop."
"He annoyed the hell out of me at first," Doc admitted. "Maybe it was the whole `inscrutable effete Asian' role that he played to the hilt. Anyway, by the time we found the weapons, we had to chase off some Nazi arms dealers in the middle of the deal."
"The whole warehouse suffered a `mysterious' fire," Rose confirmed. "Nobody was killed, of course. Everything inside was either burnt, melted to slag, or unrecognizable."
"Yeah, the only weapon that was left was a wrecked disruptor rifle," Doc added. "The Nazi buyers didn't get their hands on a single weapon except for that - and Savage shot the rifle up. He kept it as a souvenir."
"Was that a good idea?" Don asked. "Even broken, it could give people ideas."
"Savage said that he'd lock it up in his fortress. Claimed that it'd be the safest place in the world," the Doctor said.
Don looked contemplative for a moment. Then his expression changed to that of a somewhat distressed one.
"Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't the fortress breached before?" he asked. "From what I remember, John Sunlight did it in 1938."
A sudden, awkward silence descended on the room. The Doctor and Doc shared nervous glances as they worked out what had happened. At one of the various gatherings that Gryphon had, they remembered Steve Rogers mentioning that he'd encountered "ray guns" during his outings in the '40s.
"Well, great," Doc said unenthusiastically. "I don't suppose anybody wants to go back and - "
"NO," everyone else said.
Doc arched an eyebrow. "Okay, fine." He took a deep whiff of the aroma coming from the teapot. "That smells good," he declared.
"Oh, good, the tea's ready," Keriyn announced. "Here, let me get everyone's cups."
The unanimous consensus was that the tea was a hit. That opinion remained until Don, the Doctor and Rose stopped in mid-conversation to clutch their heads.
The Doctor grunted almost inarticulately. "I think - something's inhibiting my enzymes, causing a cascade reaction in - blimey, I can't remember when I've felt this bad!"
Don wasn't in great shape, either. "Kitty, remember the stuff Logan used to keep in the Mason jar with the rattlesnake at the bottom?"
"'It'll put hair on your chest, kid'?"
"That's the stuff. There are quadrillions of stabby photons in this room and each one of them feels like they're tapping right on my optic nerve."
Rose had staggered out of the couch and leaned her head against a nearby wall. She was also gently banging a fist against the wall.
"Arrgh..." she grunted, "It's like regeneration, only without the fun part!"
Don and the Doctor looked at her and blinked. They had the same quizzical expressions, albeit marred with pain.
"You get a fun part?" they both asked.
Doc took out his tricorder and scanned the three of them. Then he checked the teapot. He frowned at what he found.
"Keri, is this tea usually high in salicylates?"
Keriyn looked distraught. "What does that have to do with it?"
"Aspirin can kill a Time Lord," he told her. "Thankfully, these compounds are only similar, but - well, let me double check my readings."
"Could you hurry it up a bit?" the Doctor asked. "My head's really pounding. And before you ask, no, it's not to the tune of four beats."
"Okay," Doc said, "from your symptoms, it looks like you guys are all having hangovers - without the previous night of revelry. It's not fatal."
"How long will this last?" Rose asked from near the wall. She was still rhythmically banging her fist against it, albeit gently.
"Judging by the rate at which these compounds are binding to your neural receptors, I'd say you're in for six to eight hours of this. It's kind of like how carbon monoxide bonds better to hemoglobin than oxygen."
"I'm sorry," Keriyn said, obviously distressed, "I am so sorry!"
"Don't say that!" Rose exclaimed. She flinched afterwards at the volume she'd used. "That's wot 'e says just before 'e blows up your planet!" She gestured vaguely to the Doctor. It did not go unnoticed that she was slipping further towards the Coalhill spectrum of English than normal.
"Oi!" the Doctor shouted. Then he grimaced. "Six to eight hours of this? I don't think so." He bolted upright. "It's time to detox!" he announced. It might have been more dramatic if he didn't stagger slightly afterwards. Steadying himself, he started to lurch in the direction of the kitchen.
"You're getting a snack?" Rose asked somewhat incredulously.
"Do you know how detoxing works?" the Doctor asked.
Rose shook her head. Then she winced at that motion. "It wasn't in the info packet that I got."
"Consider this a crash course." He allowed her to lean on his shoulder, and they both wobbled towards the kitchen. Don followed them on equally unsteady feet.
"Kitty," the Doctor called out from the kitchen, "what happened to the ginger beer?"
"We just ran out yesterday," Kitty replied. "You had the last bottle, remember?"
"Arrgh," Rose groaned. "Can we skip that part?"
"No, the carbonation and the ginger are necessary for--can someone go out for some?"
"Don't look at me," Don said. "Not exactly fit to drive right now."
"Well, I'm not going out," the Doctor said. "I'd probably land in the middle of some big fixed-point event."
"Like that ever stops you," Rose quipped. Then she paused as the Doctor and Don eyed her expectantly. "Blimey, I'm not making the run."
"I'll drive!" Keriyn volunteered from the other room. She'd been sitting on her hands, fully cognizant of the fact that she'd accidentally poisoned her friends. She was quite eager to set things right.
Doc's face blanched. "Um, Keri? Remember the last time you drove when you were upset?" he reminded her in as diplomatic a tone as he could muster.
"I have to do something!" she exclaimed.
"What exactly happened?" Kitty asked.
"Somehow, Keri managed to get three heavy haulers to jackknife. The mess took just as many hours to sort out," Doc whispered, clearly not relishing the memories. He dashed out of the kitchen and gave his wife a reassuring squeeze on the shoulder. "I've got this. Just calm down."
"Easy for you to say," she said despondently.
He didn't quite bolt to the DeLorean. Within seconds, the car was airborne and heading to the nearest market. It was only thirty seconds later that three sonic booms were heard, and the car landed on the driveway. He popped out of the car at a run. He didn't even flinch at the ice on the door as he locked up the car. He carried three bottles of ginger beer as if they were precious treasure. Without even stopping, he dashed into the kitchen.
"Are you serious?" Rose exclaimed in disbelief. "That seems like a waste to me!"
"Whatever works," Don grunted. "I'm definitely going to have to put this shirt through the wash after this."
"All right," the Doctor said from the kitchen, "We need a source of protein. Don, what have you got?"
"Well, we have firm tofu--"
"TOFU?!" That was both Rose and the Doctor.
"Hey, we were planning on stir-fry tonight!"
"How do you stir-fry tofu? Doesn't it just turn to mush?" Rose asked.
"Look," Doc said, "tofu's a great source of protein. Unless you guys want to wait for someone to cook it up for you, you're going to have to scarf it down as is."
"Do you have any bacon? I can deal with bacon," the Doctor said plaintively. "I can even wait a few minutes to have it fried - ARGH, speaking of fried, that's my temporal lobe!"
"We're out right now," Don replied. Then he noted the puzzled looks on everyone else's faces. "What? Just because Kitty doesn't eat pork doesn't mean I have to stop seeing my first love."
"Right. Sorry. Maybe you have some beans? Beans are full of protein. I can't imagine the day when I couldn't eat baked beans. It'd be a really bad day if I couldn't eat baked beans or bacon."
"Stop whining," Doc said somewhat archly, "and eat the evil white non-meat. That goes for all of you."
"Bleagh," the Doctor declared. "It's like eating spongy cheese, but without the charm."
"Urgh," Rose said, obviously not happy with her piece. "Definitely not good when raw," she commented.
"Eh, I've had worse," Don said. "So, what's next?"
"We need something salty! And no, salt is too salty!" the Doctor said almost manically.
"Maybe we could try soy sauce?" Don suggested.
"It's worth a shot," Rose agreed.
"Are we talking two or three fingers' worth?" Doc joked. Silence followed, and everyone assumed that he'd been given sufficiently foul looks by his patients.
Keriyn shook her head and decided to see if there was anything she could do. Right now, she was just fretting and worrying on the couch while people were actually taking care of things. It was not a fun feeling.
The sight that awaited her in the kitchen was both amusing and distressing. The Time Lords in their group were chugging down a mug each of soy sauce, grimacing at the sodium overload. Doc was trying to give what reassurance he could while checking his tricorder scans.
Don, the Doctor and Rose all looked nauseous. Don and Rose, in particular, were eyeing the kitchen sink.
"All right, one more step!" The Doctor announced. "We all need a shock!"
Doc started tapping at the tricorder. "Okay, I'm going to set this thing as a makeshift defib--"
"Not the physical kind!" The Doctor exclaimed. "Surprise me! Shock me!"
Rose managed a feeble smile. "Make you write bad checks?" she suggested.
Doc resisted the urge to make a joke. Instead, he tried to imagine something that could be beyond their experience. It had to be something unexpected. Considering the breadth of experience for those involved, it was more difficult than he originally thought.
"Imagine that your TARDIS is now a woman and she wants to kiss you!" he exclaimed.
The response he got was most certainly not shock. If anything, the looks he got ranged from bemusement to disbelief.
"Oh, so that's why you stroke the controls," Rose teased the Doctor.
"Yeah, that would complicate things," Don declared.
"Can we try something else?" the Doctor suggested. He looked uncomfortable in a way that a hangover couldn't account for. "We need that shock in the next minute, or else everything--"
"Rose is creating a clone army of Jack Harkness to conquer the universe through non-violent sex appeal!" Keriyn blurted out. Then she blushed as she realized what she'd said.
"WHAT?!" the three Time Lords chorused. Then, as one, they wheezed out a grayish mist that curled towards the ceiling. It lingered there until it was sucked out by the kitchen range's fan.
"Did that do it?" Keriyn asked almost meekly.
The three Time Lords didn't wince as Doc scanned them. They were a bit busy doing their own self-diagnostics.
"Oh," the Doctor remarked, "that's much better. I really should detox more often."
"Wow," Don said, blinking. "That's a little trick I should remember."
Rose paused for a moment. Then she took a sighed deeply and smiled. "That was rather inspired," she told Keriyn.
Doc nodded. His readings indicated that they were all clear. Pocketing the tricorder, he grinned and put an arm around his wife.
"See what I mean? Brilliant!" he declared.
"Oh, stop," Keriyn said bashfully.
"Seriously, though," the Doctor began, "a clone army of Jack? That idea would never get off the ground. That'd be interesting, but useless."
"Jack would be useless in that situation," Rose remarked. Then she realized the implications of what she'd said. "I mean, he'd be too busy flirting with the clones. I didn't mean--you know, afterwards." She blushed and pointed an accusatory finger at Keriyn. "This is your fault for going there, you know."
Keriyn's blush deepened. "You don't want to know where I got the idea," she said, clearly embarrassed.
"Were you reading a lot of John/Professor Enigma fanfiction?" Doc joked. Then he noted the silence that followed. "Wait, that actually got written?"
"Maybe," she admitted. Her voice squeaked a little.
"You weren't the author--?" Doc asked before everyone heard a thunderous knocking at the front door. This made all three Time Lords wince.
Don wasn't sure what to expect. If the visitor had been hostile, he or she certainly wouldn't have been polite enough to knock.
"If it's a Dalek, a Sontaran and a Cyberman, tell them I've already beaten them!" the Doctor said cheerfully.
"Or ask them why they're not walking into a bar, because with that lineup it's the obvious next step," Kitty observed.
Don blinked as he called up the security screen for the front door. He certainly didn't expect to see a seven foot tall, bipedal space rhino.
"Guys, we've got a Judoon at the door," he announced. "Is there any reason why they'd come a knocking?"
Rose tilted her head slightly. "Didn't you say that you ditched the authorities before that thing with Davros?"
"They wanted me to lead the charge, start a war, that sort of thing," the Doctor replied almost dismissively. "Didn't think that would warrant an outstanding--warrant," he finished lamely. "300 years ago and they still hold a grudge. Blimey," he declared.
"Want me to try and stall him?" Don asked.
"No point," the Doctor replied. "He's between us and our vehicles. Besides, I suppose I have to take responsibility sometime."
As one, the Doctor was immediately scanned by a tricorder and screwdrivers in the proton and laser variety. Doc, Don and Rose glanced at each other to verify their readings.
"There's no huge deviation in brain activity," Doc reported.
"Nothing to indicate mind control," Don said. "Rose?"
"Nothing crazier than usual in his brain," Rose confirmed.
"Stop that," the Doctor said, raising his eyebrow even further. "The way you three are talking, you'd think that I was some crazy, irresponsible--"
He stopped short when he realized that everyone was giving him very meaningful looks. He had the distinct feeling that even his legendary wordplay wasn't going to get him out of this one.
"Fine lot of friends you are," he grumbled. He then smiled sheepishly to take the sting out of that statement.
"You'd better believe it," Rose replied.
"That figures," Doc groused. "The one time when we get everything nice and lined up, there has to be a cop blocking us." He winced at the Judoon puttering around his car. "Is he putting the boot on my car?!"
"Looks like it," Don confirmed. "And he's putting some sort of locks on all of our TARDISes. He's thick, but he's thorough."
"Could we go round the back way and unlock them?" Rose suggested. "I--where's Kitty? She was here a moment ago."
"Right here," Kitty replied. She stabbed a button on the phone she was carrying--the Doctor's phone, in fact. "I just had to make a quick call." She handed it back to him with a rather sunny smile.
"What? Who?" he asked.
"Someone who's very fond of bluapple pie, as it turns out," Kitty said. "You'll find out in a bit."
"Guess I'd better answer the door," Don said. "Everyone stay out of sight while I stall him."
"It really would be easier if I--" the Doctor began before he noted everyone glaring at him. "Well, it would be."
"Friends watch out for one another," Doc reminded him. "Besides, that martyr complex of yours is going to get you killed one day. Again."
Don smirked at the byplay. After a moment, he sighed and opened the door. It was unfortunate that he hasn't yet gotten around to rigging up some state of grace field on his home like he did for his TARDIS. Don certainly didn't want to burn a regeneration because of a trigger-happy space rhino.
"I seek the time-traveling doctor," the Judoon announced gruffly.
Don made a bit of a show at looking at the driveway. The DeLorean, two police boxes of differing vintages and a Pepsi machine were in neat formation. The locks that the officer had placed had red lights that blinked threateningly.
"Chance are, you're probably in the right place," Don commented. "Are we talking about a medical emergency or the Doctor with a capital D? Because, you know, we've got a couple of doctors here, not all of them medical."
The Judoon pulled out a data pad from his belt and consulted it. His scowl only got deeper. "I seek the time-traveling doctor," he repeated with a rumble in his voice.
"For what?" Don asked neutrally.
"For contempt of court," the Judoon informed him curtly. "He deliberately refused to lead the authorities into battle. The warrant was never rescinded."
The sound of a TARDIS materializing drew everyone's attention. The Judoon responded by drawing its weapon and blasted away.
"You will not escape!" he declared.
Don took his proton screwdriver out and disabled the blaster. Judging by the appearance of the new arrival, he had a good idea who it was. He also knew that she was not going to be pleased.
That was his last thought before the Judoon turned, grabbed him by the shirtfront and hoisted him upwards. He didn't think that the rhino could scowl any deeper, but he did.
"Interfering with an arrest," the Judoon observed, "is a clear violation of the law. Prepare for justice."
At that point, just about everyone in the kitchen stampeded to the front door. Screwdrivers and other implements were brandished.
"PUT. HIM. DOWN. NOW."
The officer stiffened, his tiny ears flapping around in panic. With remarkable gentleness, he lowered Don to the ground, holstering his sidearm in the process. Then the Judoon did a rapid about-face and saluted the source of the order.
There were two women in front of the newly-arrived TARDIS. One was most definitely Romana, her eyes blazing with indignation. She was dressed fairly simply; slacks, a blouse, and a light jacket as a concession to the weather. She was quite bereft of the traditional frippery that was part and parcel of her office as Lady President. The other was a petite, older-looking woman with platinum-blonde curls and red eyes. She was in a severe-looking black outfit.
"Chief Constable," the Judoon rumbled.
"May I ask why you decided to fire upon the Lady President of Gallifrey's personal TARDIS?" The acid in her tone could have fizzed away a rock quarry. Her red eyes seemed even more disconcerting.
"The Doctor's TARDIS was sighted," the Judoon replied. "Confirmation and arrest procedures were in place. He is a high flight risk."
"HA!" Don exclaimed involuntarily. Next to him, Kitty and Rose were trying to hide a snicker.
"So you decided to shoot first and arrest later?" That was Romana, her voice no less acidic than the Constable's. She faced said pale blonde woman and frowned. "This is hardly the quality of law-enforcement that I expect from the Shadow Proclamation."
The Chief Constable did not flinch. However, there was something in her manner that indicated some level of acquiescence.
"A momentary aberration, Lady President," the Constable said stiffly. She turned and fixed the Judoon with another glare. "I am officially rescinding the Doctor's arrest warrant. He is free to leave."
The Judoon officer blinked. "Constable?" he asked while tilting his head.
The Chief Constable's glare intensified. "You heard my order. This inconvenience requires the standard compensation fees. We may proceed once everyone puts their weapons down." She nodded at the still-tense group at the door.
"I don't carry weapons," the Doctor muttered as he pocketed his screwdriver.
"Not the time," Rose reminded him quietly. There were moments when his anti-weapon stance got a bit tiresome.
Stiffly, reluctantly, the Judoon officer pulled some bills out of a belt pouch and handed them to Don. If the officer had been Kryptonian, everyone would have been vaporized by the look he gave them.
"Further orders, Chief Constable?"
The pale-blonde woman frowned. "After you disable the restraints on their vessels, we are to return to headquarters to review this matter fully."
The Judoon stiffly obeyed. In a few moments, the vehicles had been freed of the ominous-looking restraints. He then tromped back to his own ship.
"My apologies," the Chief Constable said almost curtly to the group. Then she spared a glance at Romana. "Your information was most enlightening. It is not often that my office receives a visit from a Time Lord."
"I only wished to smooth out any lingering friction from past issues," Romana said diplomatically. "One cannot enforce the law if there is no-one to enforce it."
"Quite right," the Chief Constable agreed, perhaps a little too eagerly.
The group watched the byplay, agape at how deftly Romana was choosing her words. She was leading the conversation, but she allowed the Chief Constable to think otherwise. There was little doubt that Romana had more leverage than mere statistics backing her up.
"Incidentally," Don began, "what would have happened if any of us tried to remove the restraints?"
"They would have exploded," the Chief Constable said simply. "Each one of these would have probably destroyed your house. This is assuming, of course, if you could bypass the deadlock seal."
"That would be sufficient discouragement," Romana agreed. There was an undertone in her voice that said "that's overkill and you know it."
"Deadlock seals," the Doctor muttered, "why does it have to be deadlock seals?"
"Maybe the universe is hinting for you to upgrade?" Rose teased him.
"In any case, my business here is concluded," the Chief Constable said formally. She nodded to all involved and strode to the Judoon's ship. After a few moments, the ship lifted off.
"So! What have we learned from this?" the Doctor asked.
"Messing with Romana is a bad idea?" Doc suggested.
"As the Doctor well knows," Romana commented smugly.
"Reading trashy fanfiction can save peoples' lives?" That was Keriyn.
"I should stock ginger beer more often?" Kitty asked.
"Detoxification should be done in a well-ventilated area?" That was Don.
"You really need to keep track of your loose ends?" Rose teased.
The Doctor assumed a thoughtful pose. "Hm, good points all. How about we leave it at that?" He took a deep whiff and smiled. "By the smell of it, something's just about done warming up in the oven."
"I really hope that bluapple pie doesn't cause a reaction," Keriyn said.
"It won't," Romana reassured her. "I don't suppose that you have any honeybark tea to go with that?"
"Bad idea," Rose said quickly. "We just had a bad reaction to the tea."
Romana tilted her head slightly, curious. "Did you have the pie with the tea?"
"Well, no," the Doctor admitted. "What does that have to do with it?"
Romana sighed and gave him an almost indulgent smile. It was the kind of smile that parents frequently gave their children when they were being particularly dense.
"Certain compounds in Salusian bluapples neutralize the effects of the tea," she told him. Romana was trying hard not to be smug about knowing that fact.
The Doctor seemed to mull it over. "Well, that would have made the last ten minutes less exciting," he remarked. "On the plus side, Don and Rose now know how to detox."
"Always a handy skill," Romana remarked.
"Now where were we?" Don asked. "Oh, yeah. We were talking about Doc Savage. From what everyone was saying, he was mostly like what the stories described, but not exactly. It makes me wonder if stuff like the Crime College was real."
The Doctor shrugged. "Oh, that. It never existed. The closest thing he had was a rehabilitation center--no brain surgery involved. In those days, people - even some doctors - thought that kind of thing was feasible. Clark knew better. He was a man well ahead of his time."
"Mostly," Romana added as she sat down. "Now, let's see how good that pie is."
Keriyn watched nervously as another batch of honeybark tea had been brewed. She couldn't exactly voice her doubts about Romana's little revelation. You did not question the Lady President without good reason.
She felt Doc's hand on hers. He gave her an almost jaunty smirk, silently telling her to relax. It was a sweet gesture, but she was still on edge as Romana reached for the pie.
The expression on Romana's face went from discerning criticism to wide-eyed, pleasant surprise as she tried her piece. She finished with an almost blissful smile.
"That was worth the trip," she declared. "I should share this with Clark sometime. He needs to broaden his horizons."
"You still talk to him?" the Doctor asked. "I thought that you two weren't really on speaking terms."
"World War II left him far more amenable to accepting his emotional needs. We've reached an understanding." She left it at that, almost daring the group to fill in the blanks with something impudent.
"Good to hear," Don announced. "He needed some balance in his life."
"Indeed," Romana agreed, sipping her tea. "That's why he's in my TARDIS."
The Doctor gaped at Romana. "He's not piloting, is he?"
"Of course not," she said dismissively. "He's a passenger. I have two very skilled pilots running the ship with me. We handle two panels each."
"Anybody we know?" Rose asked.
Romana smiled. "Oh, I think so."
"So, you call yourself `the Master?'" Clark asked. He was sitting on a fairly comfortable sofa in the control room. "What are you a master of?"
The Master shrugged and grinned. "Oh, just about anything I put my mind to," he said cheerfully. "I go about conquering races and spreading discord to make my mark on the universe. So, of course, the Doctor stops me. Or, well, that's how we used to do it..."
"What about last week?" Donna asked. She was working her panels, putting the TARDIS on standby mode. "You planted a statue of yourself among that terracotta army in China."
"I think that someone ended up as a `household god' in ancient Rome?" he reminded her. "Considering my past deeds, that's pretty harmless. Besides, I look good in ancient Chinese armor." The Master considered something for a moment. "All right, maybe I was a bit more well-muscled, but - "
They were interrupted by what sounded like a faint choking sound. The two Time Lords gaped as Clark appeared to be chuckling.
"Oh, here's one for the books!" the Master said excitedly. "I think I've actually made Doc Savage laugh!"
"I've learned to relax a little," Clark admitted. "The Fortress of Solitude isn't always where great ideas are born."
"Being alone all the time would just drive me barmy," Donna said. "Everybody needs somebody."
The Master and Clark looked at her. She rolled her eyes. This was the usual reaction she got.
"Not that way," she reminded them. "Do you think they saved us some pie? I can smell it from here."
"I believe that Romana would insist," Clark said. "She's like that."
"Yes, she is," the Master agreed readily. He clapped his hands together and rubbed them with almost manic glee. "Brand new century, old friends, and pie are waiting outside the door! Can't get much better than that!"
"No, I suppose not," Clark agreed with a smile.
It was unanimously agreed upon that the pie was, indeed, worth the trip.
"Teatime Lesson" - a Future Imperfect Mini-Story by Pearson "Doc" Mui
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