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The Xoloans, Part Three
Robert’s eyes opened wide. The last thing he could remember was being shot.
He checked his surroundings. He was in his bedroom. Dwight and the girl, what was her name? Anyway, they must have moved him there. He checked his body. Everything was there. No bits were missing. He had a throbbing headache, but he knew it would eventually pass.
He shakily slipped out of bed and on to his feet.
There was something very unusual about that girl. Her necklace. That was it. Most irregular, and inappropriate. Robert was filled with fear as he tried to remember her name. After several minutes of pacing, he smacked his fist into his hand.
“Romana! That was her name!” He exclaimed to no one. “Must write that down somewhere. She’s probably sent to get me. Well, I’ll not have that!”
He strode groggily buy meaningfully out of the room.
Dwight and Romana hurried up the road back to the manor. They entered by way of the study and Romana looked all around the room, poking in cabinets, and looking under tables.
Slightly out of breath, Dwight said “This is a rather large home, milady. Perhaps we should narrow the search a bit?”
Romana crossed her arms. “Good Point, Dwight. Good point. Where does Lord Robert go when he needs some time to himself?”
“How can that-“
“No time for explanations, Dwight. Where does he go?”
“He has this study, of course. Sometimes, he takes a nap in his bedroom when tired.”
“No, no. I mean when he’s really cheesed off, and doesn’t want to have to deal with anyone.”
“Ah. For those special moments, he prefers his private office.”
“Excellent. Take me there.”
“Oh, I couldn’t do that, milady. Nobody’s allowed in. Not even the staff.”
“All the more reason,” Romana declared.
“I really can’t.”
Romana put her arm over Dwight’s shoulders. “Now, look, Dwight. You’ve been quite helpful thus far. Don’t be difficult, now. I understand that Lord Robert probably left some fairly strict instructions concerning his private office-“
“I’ll say,“ Dwight interjected.
“-and it’s good of you to look after his wishes so,” Romana continued, undaunted. “But I don’t think Lord Robert was accounting for the possibility of a Time Lady needing to poke around in there to find a way to stop creatures from a black hole from crushing us all with the force of a collapsing universe.”
“Well, since you put it that way…”
“Good.” Romana retrieved her arm and gave Dwight a gentle push toward the hall. “Lead on.”
Stevens stomped into the servant’s entrance. “Bloody field. Twice out and ne’er in, I was.” The entrance led to the small kitchen. It was smaller than one would expect for a mansion the size of Haverfield Manor, but not much cooking was needed for a family of one. When the Lord had a party or guests, the large kitchen was used.
Sally took his coat. “What’s all this, Mr. Stevens? Been out in the north field, have you?”
“Twice, I were,” grumbled Stevens, sitting at the table. “Got whooshed over without so much as a by-your-leave.”
“There, there, Mr. Stevens. Care for some tea?”
Stevens pressed on, oblivious to Sally’s offer. “That’s what I get for tryin’ to be helpful. No justice, I tell you. No justice.” He pointed at Sally. “And I don’t much care for the new girl, neither. She don’t show Mr. Henderson the proper respect.”
“New girl?” Sally asked, preparing a cup of tea for Stevens.
“Aye. She must have started only today. Wearin’ that burgundy dress of yours, too.”
“There, there, Mr. Stevens,” said Sally, offering him the cup. “I’ve got three dresses, and that one ain’t the best of them. If she’s needy, she can have it. But this is the first I’ve heard of any new maids.”
“Well, there be one, believe me. And she asks a lot of questions. Normally, I wouldn’t tolerate it, you know. But some odd stuff been a’happenin’.”
“Really?” Said Sally. “Like what?”
“You wouldna’ believe me.”
“Harlan Stevens. You could at least give me the benefit of the doubt!”
“All right. But remember you came askin’.”
Dwight reluctantly used his master key to open Lord Robert’s private office. As he put it back in his pocket, he said, “I’m still not sure if this-“
Romana brushed past him into the office. Dwight sighed and followed.
The office was the only room in the house not maintained by the staff, and it showed. Every horizontal surface was stacked high with papers, as were some areas of the floor. The desk could hardly be seen under all the paperwork. Apparently, the five file cabinets and three floor-to-ceiling cupboards adorning the walls were insufficient storage space.
“Good lord,” said Dwight. “We’ll never find anything in here. I had no idea it was this bad. I should get him to at least let the staff in once per year.”
Romana ignored the papers on the desk, and chose instead to crawl under it. “Nope,” She declared, popping her head back up.
Dwight roamed across the office, running his finger along the furniture. He looked at his fingertip. “Disgraceful dust in here.”
Romana walked past and opened the top drawer of a random file cabinet. “Nope,” she said, without even looking in the drawer. She tried another. Again, she said “Nope,” without inspecting the drawer’s contents.
“How do you expect to find anything without looking at anything?” Dwight asked.
Romana tried a third file cabinet. Like the others, it failed to meet her requirements. “Trust me. I’ll know it when I see it.” The other two failed her as well.
“Perhaps you could give me some clue as to what you’re doing, and I could lend a hand?”
“It would take longer to explain
than to just do it,” Romana said, opening one of the cupboards. It was full of
“It’s the Lord’s private collection. Some of those things are worth thousands of Pounds.”
“Visually stunning, but not what I’m looking for.” She closed the cupboard.
The next cupboard would not open. Romana looked up and down its six-foot doors. “Why is this locked?”
Dwight raised an eyebrow. “Maybe the Lord doesn’t want people rummaging around in it.”
“Nonsense,” said Romana, arms akimbo. “Nothing else was locked. The office is locked and only you and he have the key. So why lock a cupboard inside a locked office. I think what I’m looking for is in there.”
Dwight gestured to another cupboard. “You haven’t even checked this one.”
“I’m sure this is it,” she said, bending down to peer at the lock. She smiled. “Yes. This is it.”
“Women’s intuition?” Asked Dwight facetiously.
Romana scowled at him. “There’s no evidence to support heightened psychic ability in the females of either your race or mine.”
“It was just an expression.”
“Now, if you want to talk about deductive skills…” She pulled her necklace over her head and grasped the key. “Here goes.” She placed it in the lock and turned.
The doors to the cupboard swung open.
Dwight looked inside, his mouth agape. “What on Earth is it?”
Romana smiled at him. “It’s Lord Robert’s TARDIS. Shall we go inside?”
Stevens and Sally walked down the road.
“Honestly, Mr. Stevens,” said Sally. “I really think you should rest a bit. You have been working awfully hard, lately-“
“Come on, woman! I’ll show you. I tell you it’s right up the road. You’ll believe me when you’re in the north field, you will.”
Sally hurried to keep up. “Mr. Stevens. You shouldn’t let yourself get upset so. You’ve got your health to think about.”
“Me health,” he grumbled. “Getting teleported about can’t be good for me health, I’ll tell you that for nothing.”
Sally’s face became a mask of compassion. “Alls you need is a good rest, Mr. Stevens.”
“What I need, woman, is to show you what happened. It’s just a few hundred feet more. I’ll get a rock and throw it through and-“ he disappeared without a sound. Poor Mr. Stevens was not aware that it was a collapsing spatial bubble.
Sally stared, wide-eyed and open-mouthed, at the nothing where Stevens had been. On the very edge of her hearing, almost imperceptibly quiet, she thought she heard someone far to the north yell “Bugger!”
Dwight looked all around the console room while Romana fiddled with the controls. “It’s just like your TARDIS,” said Dwight. “Down to the finest detail.”
“Not quite,” Romana said, looking at the readouts. “This one has a Type B console”
“I had no idea Lord Robert had one of these! How did you know?”
Romana got under the console and opened an access panel. “It wasn’t that hard a deductive leap,” she grunted, heaving the panel out of her way. “When we all woke up in the study after the Xoloans stunned us, I checked his pulse. He’s got two hearts.”
“What’s that?” Asked Dwight, kneeling beside her.
“Your boss is a Time Lord.”
“That’s impossible. He was born here.”
“I rather think not,” Romana’s voice wafted from under the console. “I’m sure he was born on my home planet of Gallifrey. I won’t go in to details, but Time Lords can change their appearance from time to time. Rarely, though, and we can only do it 12 times across our whole life. I think Lord Robert has been doing just that every 70 or 80 years, and then pretending to be the heir. That way nobody notices that he’s been around for centuries.”
“How do you figure?”
“Our life-span is considerably
longer than the human life-span. You never even met this incarnation of him
until his ‘father’ died. Then he came back from
“So what are you doing, now?”
She came out from under the console holding a box with several wires sticking out of it. “I’m getting this.”
“What is it?”
“It’s the dimensional stabilizer.”
“What does it do?”
“It stabilizes dimensions.”
“See, here, should you be taking things out of his TARDIS?”
“Not to worry. I’ll put it all back when I’m done.”
“Why don’t you use your own TARDIS?”
She opened the box and pointed inside. “That is a functional quantum tube. Mine is broken.” She sighed. “Good old Type 40 safety engineering. There are practically no fail-safes, but the one thing it will do if it can is land next to another TARDIS if things are awry.”
“Kind of like having a car that drives to another car if it thinks it will break down?” Dwight reasoned.
“What’s the point of that?”
“I should think that would be obvious,” Romana stood. “The other driver can give you a lift.”
“So your TARDIS came here to Lord Robert’s of its own volition?”
“Not quite,” said Romana, striding out. “I was a bit hard on my poor TARDIS, and was very inexact when telling it where to go. So, when it started to break down, it found the nearest TARDIS within the limitations of the destination I set.”
“What destination did you set?” Dwight asked, following her out of Robert’s TARDIS and in to the office.
“What? That’s all? You could have
shown up anywhere in
“That’s about the size of it, yes. Come along. We need to get this to the edge of the bubble.”
“What will it do?”
They walked in silence for a while.
“Well…since it’s a dimensional stabilizer, I suppose it would stabilize the sphere of space we’re in, and keep it from shrinking further?”
“Close. The entire bubble is an unstable dimension. So when I sic the stabilizer on it…” Romana prompted.
Dwight snapped his fingers. “It will go away entirely!”
“Spot on. You know, you’re really coming along, Dwight.”
“I try my best, milady.”
The Xoloans watched from their hill as Romana and Dwight exited the mansion below.
“The female carries something, Mr. Jones,” reported Johnson.
“Indeed, Mr. Johnson,” said Jones. “It appears to be highly technical.”
“Could it be from Lord Robert’s TARDIS, Mr. Jones?” Asked Smith.
“Presumably, Mr. Smith,” said Jones. “But if that is the case, where is Lord Robert? I assumed any retaliation of a scientific nature would be done by Lord Robert. A Time Lord would know what to do. These two humans should not know what to do.”
“Recommendation, Mr. Jones,” said Johnson. “Have Mr. Smith go to the edge of the bubble and observe. If the humans breach it, he can follow them back into the mansion. Presumably, they will return the device to the TARDIS when they are done with it.”
“Excellent suggestion, Mr. Johnson. Mr. Smith? See to it.”
“By your command, Mr. Jones.”
Smith teleported away without fanfare.
“The TARDIS will be ours, Mr. Johnson. It is only a matter of time,” Jones remarked.
“I hope it is not simply a matter of time, Mr. Jones,” said Johnson, “because Lord Robert is a Time Lord. He would have the upper hand.”
“Your levity is quite refreshing, Mr. Johnson.”
“Thank you, Mr. Jones.”
Dwight watched Romana’s unusual behavior on the road.
Romana walked forward awkwardly, with the stabilizer under one arm, and tossing pebbles with the other. Finally, one of the pebbles disappeared before it hit the ground.
“There we are,” she said to Dwight. “The edge of the bubble.” She dropped to her knees and set the stabilizer on the ground. Opening the box, she began fiddling with the wires inside.
“Doesn’t that thing need some sort of power?”
“It’s powered remotely by the TARDIS’s Dynomorphic Generator,” she said absently.
She worked silently for a few more minutes while Dwight tossed pebbles into the field.
“It’s almost here,” said Dwight.
“Ready. Stand back,” she said, getting well back herself.
The field crept forward, ever slow, toward the stabilizer. Once it reached the edge of the box, the world disappeared.
The bubble became immediately visible, glowing a bright blue, and began to darken. Dwight glanced all around to see the grounds, the manor house, and everything within the bubble untouched, but everything outside was becoming more and more rapidly obscured by the darkening dome.
The stabilizer started to make a repeating raspy grinding noise. Romana had heard the sound hundreds if not thousands of times before. She smiled.
“What’s that sound?” Dwight asked.
“It means it’s working.” She said.
And with nothing more than an echoing thump from the stabilizer, the bubble disappeared.
“All taken care of,” said Romana, dramatically slapping imaginary dust off her hands.
“If you’re quite done with my dimensional stabilizer,” said a voice behind them. “I should like it back, thank you.”
They both spun to see Robert standing disapprovingly.
Dwight took a step forward. “Lord Robert. Why didn’t you tell me you were a Time Lord?”
Robert waved Dwight off and addressed Romana. “I saw that little display. Space Bubble?”
“Yes,” Romana answered.
“Collapsing?” He furrowed his brow.
“Geo-space or Ether-space?”
“Rate of collapse?”
“Around a centimeter per second.”
“Well…” Robert grumbled, “I suppose you had no choice. You should have asked first, though.”
“Lord Robert,” Dwight interrupted. “I think you owe me a bit of an explanation.”
“Yes, yes, all right,” Robert put an arm over Dwight’s shoulders. Craning his neck to address Romana, he said “Be a good lass and bring the stabilizer, would you?”
“Lass!?” Romana fumed, but Robert was walking away with Dwight.
She grabbed the stabilizer and followed the two men.
Robert took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “You see Dwight, I’m not of your world-“
“Yes, yes, I know that. You’re from Gallifrey. You’re a Time Lord. You have a TARDIS, which can travel through time and space. What I want to know is why you didn’t tell me.”
Robert shot daggers at Romana, who was still in a huff. “Been bringing him up to speed, have you?” The Lord said.
“It’s more than I can say for some people, Lord Robert.”
Robert ignored her and turned to Dwight again. “I like it here. I decided to stay. That was quite a long time ago. Naturally, to keep up appearances, I had to explain away my long lifetime. You see, from time to time, I do what’s called “regenerating”, where-“
“You change your body,” Dwight interrupted. “I know! Why didn’t you tell me? That’s my question!”
Robert spun to face Romana. “See here. Is there anything you didn’t tell him? Just spread secrets around, do you? Why don’t you tell him how to make a plasma rifle while your at it. Or maybe give him designs for the new Mark 7 TARDIS!”
“It’s up to Mark 9, now,” Romana retaliated. “And if you want to talk about breaking rules, let’s consider your behavior of late. You’re not allowed to have a TARDIS when you retire, you know. And I suppose you became a Lord by accident? How did you make all your money? Time travelers can make some pretty shrewd investments, you know.”
Robert burbled with rage for a moment. “Now you listen to me, young lady! I’ve kept the spirit of the laws intact!”
Romana leaned over and asked Dwight, “What’s he been investing in, lately?”
Dwight shrugged and said. “Aeronautics, I think.”
Romana glared at Robert. “McDonnell Douglas, most likely,”
Robert looked away while Dwight said, “Yes, that was it.”
Romana stepped closer to Robert. “Awfully fortunate investment, Lord Robert. Invest in the company that makes Harrier jets shortly before the Falkland War.”
“What war?” Asked Dwight.
“That’s neither here nor there!” Robert stammered at Romana.
“What war? There’s to be a war?” Dwight pressed.
“It’s very much here and there,” Romana retorted to Robert. “You can’t just plant yourself somewhere and take advantage of you knowledge of the future. It isn’t allowed. Nor is keeping an active TARDIS without permission.” Romana flinched a little as she said that, suddenly realizing that her own TARDIS was technically stolen.
“Could we get back to the war topic?” Dwight tried in vain.
“Well,” Robert huffed at Romana, “It’s been a rather long time since my days at the Academy, but I seem to remember some rule or another about not exhibiting anachronistic technology.”
“We were in a bloody space bubble!” Romana spat, “Anachronistic technology had already been displayed. I saved us.”
Robert deflated. “Yes…well…I suppose. Look here. There’s no need to tell Gallefrey about this, is there?”
Romana sighed. “No, I suppose not. But that can all wait. Xoloans are after us.”
Dwight cleared his throat. “I’m still a bit concerned about this war, could one of you two-“
Robert interrupted. “I know. They shot me, remember? But why would Xoloans bother us? They’re a peace loving race who mostly stay in their black hole.”
“Obviously these are criminals,” said Romana. “And we’ve not seen the last of them.”
“Excuse me!” Dwight said with uncharacteristic force. “All I want to know is-“
“No need to be huffy, milady.” Dwight sniffed.
Just meters away, Mr. Smith watched and listened to the Time Lords bicker. He was, at the moment, zero-dimensional, existing solely in a single geometric point in space smaller than the tiniest sub-atomic particle. It was the perfect hiding place. Once the collapsing bubble had been shut down, he was able to enter the area.
As the trio of humanoids entered the mansion, Mr. Smith followed behind them.
Robert led the way down the halls toward his private office. “So what do you suppose they want? Not to kill me, surely. They had their chance to do that and didn’t.”
“I don’t know,” Romana replied, “Is there any reason a bunch of criminals from a black hole on the other side of the universe would be interested in you?”
“None that I can think of.” Robert replied, entering the private office.
Romana followed, saying “Come, there must be something. Why would they single you out?”
“My dear, I haven’t the foggiest idea. I’ve never even met a Xoloan before today.”
Dwight tisked at the office, recoiling at the dust and disorder. He began tidying up.
“Well, anyway,” Romana said, handing Robert his dimensional stabilizer, “I suppose you’ll want this back.”
“Naturally,” said Robert. He strode over to the desk with the stabilizer under one arm. Dwight stood in his path, tidying.
“If you don’t mind, Dwight?”
“Lord Robert, this office is a disgrace! Explain yourself!” Dwight said in a demanding tone.
Robert looked sheepish. “Well, I… Now see here a moment! You can’t just stand there and bark at me! I’m the Lord of this Manor and-“
“My Lord, there’s no excuse for this level of slovenliness. I demand you let the staff in here at least once per month!”
Robert frowned. “Oh, I suppose, Dwight. I suppose. Now, will you please let me pass?”
Dwight stood aside and glared at Robert like a disapproving school teacher. Robert opened a drawer and produced a TARDIS key. Returning across the room to his TARDIS, he opened the door. “At least you had the common sense to close and lock it, young lady.”
Romana rolled her eyes. “Of course I did.”
Mr. Smith felt something almost like excitement. He had found Lord Robert’s TARDIS. The mission was successful. While Xoloans have no emotions to speak of, sometimes they could have something close. He was just about to teleport back and report his find to Mr. Johnson, who would no doubt be pleased, when he heard the next exchange.
Romana cleared her throat. “I don’t know if this is the right time to ask, but I’m having some trouble with my TARDIS. It needs a new quantum tube. I don’t suppose you could lend a hand fashioning one? I know how, of course, but it would be faster with four hands.”
“I don’t see why not,” said Robert, emerging from his TARDIS after having replaced his dimensional stabilizer. “I know quite well what it’s like to break down. This old girl hasn’t worked in decades. Something with the time rotor, I suspect. Haven’t had the time to really put any work in to it. Not a high priority, you see. I’m quite happy here, you know.”
“Would you like a bit of help?” Romana asked.
“Bah!” said Robert. “I need hobbies. I wouldn’t want that to be too easy.”
“As you like,” said Romana.
Dwight sighed audibly, looking at the desk. He had freshly cleaned it, and it nearly sparkled. “This is the best I can do. Hmm. I shall have to have some of the staff put in extra hours tonight. That’s for certain.”
Mr. Smith’s non-feelings of excitement left him. He had found the Lord’s TARDIS. But it wasn’t working. Almost as a worthless bonus, he had discovered that the girl was in fact a Time Lady, and she, too had a TARDIS. But it, too, did not work. He non-sulkily teleported back to make his report to Mr. Jones.
“Intriguing report, Mr. Smith,” said Mr. Jones after hearing Mr. Smith’s account of the conversation.
“Thank you, Mr. Jones,” said Mr. Smith.
“It would seem,” Mr. Johnson said, “that we should exercise patience, Mr. Jones. We need to wait until one of the TARDISes are operational before we strike.”
“That is not necessarily the case, Mr. Johnson,” said Mr. Jones.
“Oh?” asked Mr. Johnson, taken by surprise.
Mr. Jones and Mr. Smith looked at him with their vacant eyes.
“I mean: ‘Oh, Mr. Jones?’” Corrected Mr. Johnson.
“Indeed,” said Mr. Jones, placated. “The Time Lady said her TARDIS was in need of a quantum tube. A quantum tube is a fundamental component of a dimensional stabilizer. She used Lord Robert’s dimensional stabilizer to remove our collapsing spatial bubble. Conclusion: Lord Robert has a functional quantum tube. Further conclusion: Between the two of them, they have what is necessary to make one functional TARDIS.”
“Your knowledge of TARDIS design is impressive, Mr. Jones,” said Mr. Johnson.
“Thank you, Mr. Johnson. I studied every resource on TARDISes available before we embarked on this mission.”
“Your logic is impeccable, Mr. Jones,” said Mr. Smith. “But we lack the skills necessary to repair either TARDIS, even with the appropriate parts.”
“Then they shall have to affect to appropriate repairs, Mr. Smith,” said Mr. Jones, “We shall act very soon.”
“By your command, Mr. Jones,” Mr. Smith and Mr. Johnson chorused.
Romana, Robert, and Dwight sat in the lounge. This was quite a change for Dwight. Normally, he would be serving the Lord and his guest, but things had spiraled so quickly out of control and he was so entrenched in them, he had no choice but to be a temporary equal.
“So, these Xoloans,” Dwight began. “They come from a black hole. They’re predominantly law-abiding-“
“Very much so,” Romana said.
“Couldn’t hope to find a nicer bunch of chaps,” Robert added.
“If you insist,” said Dwight. “And they are responsible for the technology that makes your time machines bigger on the inside than on the out?”
“They gave it to us millennia ago,” said Romana.
“But these three are criminals of some sort, and have some sort of problem with Lord Robert.”
“But not one they intend to solve by killing him, clearly,” said Romana.
“I should hope not,” Robert added.
“So what do they want?”
“Ahh,” said Romana. “Now we’re getting to the gist of things. If we knew that, we’d know what to do next. I have a theory, but I’m not at all sure about it.”
“Well let’s hear it.” Robert said.
Romana folded one leg over the other. “My guess is that they’re after your TARDIS. Xoloans don’t have time travel technology. They don’t really want it, either. These criminals might have a different feeling on the matter. A TARDIS is quite a prize, you must admit.”
“Then why didn’t they simply take it?” Asked Robert.
“They probably didn’t know where it was. Chameleon circuits can be quite effective. Even Xoloans can’t tell the difference.”
Dwight leaned forward. “Then why didn’t they point a large and nasty looking gun at Lord Robert and demand his TARDIS?”
Romana shook her head. “No time lord would ever surrender their TARDIS. I wouldn’t. Nor would Lord Robert.”
“Bang on,” said Robert. “I’d die before I told common ruffians where my TARDIS was.”
“That won’t be necessary,” said a deadpan monotone.
Romana, Robert, and Dwight looked to each other, each trying to figure who said that. Then, they slowly turned to look at the corner of the room. The three Xoloans stood there, their guns at the ready.
“I see,” said Romana, standing.
“You need not die to protect the location of your TARDIS, Lord Robert,” said Mr. Jones. “We know it to be in your private office. And you, who calls herself Romana, are known to us.”
“Yes,” intoned Mr. Jones, flanked by Mr. Smith and Mr. Johnson. “You are Romanadvoratrelundar, one time President of the High Council of Time Lords.”
“My word!” Robert exclaimed, standing. “Is that true?”
Romana grimaced. “Yes, well, that was a long time ago and I don’t like to talk about it.”
“My, my, I am out of touch.” Robert sighed.
Dwight stood, as well. “Do you mean to say you’re the President of your people.”
“Was the President. Was,” Romana snapped.
“That is all irrelevant,” said Mr. Jones. “Lord Robert’s TARDIS needs work on its Time Rotor. Yours,” he indicated Romana, “Needs only to have it’s quantum tube replaced. You will take Lord Robert’s quantum tube. You will lead us to your TARDIS. You will then install it in your TARDIS. We will take over from there.”
“I’ll do no such thing!”
All three Xoloans raised their weapons. “We will kill you if you do not.”
Romana puffed up her chest. “Go right ahead. But you’ll never get a functional TARDIS if you do.”
“We will still have Lord Robert,” said Mr. Jones.
Robert shook his head. “Not a bit of it. I’ll die with her, if you like.”
This turn of events did not surprise Mr. Jones in the least. It would have been easier had they simply given in to fear of death. But he had other plans, based on the psychological makeup of the average Time Lord. He had done much research before embarking on his quest.
He addressed. “Comply or we will kill this one,” he pointed his gun at Dwight, and the other two Xoloans followed suit.
Romana was visibly concerned, but stood her ground. “No. I don’t know how many would die if you got a TARDIS. Our three lives would be a small price to pay to see to it that you don’t.”
“Now wait a moment!” said Lord Robert.
“Do I have a say in this, milady?” Asked Dwight calmly.
“No,” Romana answered nonchalantly.
“I see,” Dwight said, with exaggerated acceptance.
“So, there you have it … er… What’s your name?” Romana asked.
“You may call me Mr. Jones,” said Mr. Jones. “I shall increase the threat. Comply or we shall destroy this planet by compressing it into a single point.”
“What is ‘bluffing’?” Mr. Jones asked.
“Right,” said Romana. “Xoloans. Right.”
“Don’t kill Dwight!” Robert pled. “I’ll do the repairs if you like. Just don’t hurt him! He’s been a good friend to me!”
Mr. Jones showed no sign of celebratory feeling at his apparent victory. “We go to the private office.”
“Ye still don’t believe me?” Stevens asked, leaning against the banister. “After what ye saw?”
Sally wiped a rag against the lowest step on the old wooden staircase leading to the second floor. “I know what I saw, Mr. Stevens. It were the work of dark forces form the beyond, it were. We should never talk of it again.”
“Never talk-“ Stevens turned red. “There’s something very strange going on out there, I tell you. I have to talk to someone. The police, maybe.”
“Aye, and what good would that do? Would you be telling them you got magically transported to the north field?”
Stevens looked down. “Maybe, woman. What’s it to you?”
“They’d tell you to get sober, like they’ve done a score o’ times in the past, they would. Just you settle down. We’ll tell Mr. Henderson, he’ll know what to do.”
“Bah! Dwight won’t do a damnable thing!”
Sally stood in a huff. “You watch your attitude, Mr. Stevens. It’s ‘Mr. Henderson’ to the likes of you, and I won’t abide by your swearing in this house.”
“Swearing? Bah! ‘Tis the least of our troubles! Something’s got to be done, I tell ye…what are you lookin’ at, woman?”
Sally was staring over Stevens’ shoulder. “My word. It the Master’s private office. Open to the world for all to see.
Stevens followed her gaze. “Aye, and what of it?”
Sally walked to the open doorway. “I’ve worked her near 12 years, I’ve never seen the inside before. We’re not supposed to even consider going in there.”
Stevens walked over and leaned on the doorway. “I don’t see anything so special. Just a lot of paper and junk. Let the Master have his privacy, I say.”
Sally entered the office. “Well, it shore do need cleanin’.”
“Woman!” Stevens barked. “You get out of there this instant, I say! You’ve got no right!”
“Mr. Stevens! Don’t you be a’barklin’ orders at me! It just needs a bit o’ dustin.”
“Why can’t you women leave a man’s privacy to himself. Get out o’ there!”
“Nonesense. The door were open. I aim to clean this room. It may be my only chance.”
From down the hall, Stevens heard voices.
“-what do you intend to do?” came Robert’s voice.
“It is not your concern,” came a monotone Stevens didn’t recognize.
“Sally!” Stevens hissed. “The Master’s a-comin!”
“Oy, you expect me to believe that, do you?”
“Stupid woman! Listen to me!”
“I’ve had just about enough of you, Mr. Stevens! If you’re uncomfortable, leave me be!”
Romana, Dwight, Robert, rounded the corner of the hall followed by the Xoloans holding guns on them. All stopped at the sight of Stevens.
Stevens took off his had. “Afternoon, Master!”
Robert stammered. “Stevens! Ah…Perhaps you should leave, now, old chap, er-”
Mr. Johnson stepped forward, pointing his gun at Stevens. “Get with the others,” he ordered.
“Do what he says, Stevens,” said Dwight, “Although it may look odd, it is a gun and we are his prisoners.”
Stevens nodded his head, nervously. “Aye, Mr. Henderson,” he said, filing in with the others. “What be happening?”
“Silence or be silenced,” said Mr. Smith.
Sally, inside the office, heard the exchange, and crawled under the desk. She was shielded from view by the antique wooden workplace, so long as no one came around to sit in it.
The two humans, two Time Lords, and three Xoloans entered the office.
Mr. Jones pointed his gun at Lord Robert. “Open your TARDIS.”
Robert pulled his key out of a pocket and opened the cabinet that was his disguised TARDIS.
Stevens looked inside. “Master Robert, what’s that room doin’ there?”
Robert cleared his throat. “It’s a long story.”
“No talking,” said Mr. Smith.
“Everybody inside,” said Mr. Jones, gesturing toward the TARDIS with his gun.
Romana, Robert, Dwight, and Stevens walked inside. The Xoloans followed closely behind, leaving the door open.
They all stood around the console of Lord Robert’s TARDIS.
“Lord Robert,” Mr. Jones said, “Retrieve your quantum tube.”
Robert nodded and ducked under the console.
Romana crossed her arms. “Lord Robert, are you sure cooperating is the best idea?”
“I can’t think of a better one,” said Robert.
Dwight interjected, “Do you want me dead, madam?”
“It’s a matter of priorities,” said Romana, passively. “Sorry.”
Mr. Johnson looked at the console controls. “I will be able to operate The Time Lady’s TARDIS, Mr. Jones.”
“Explain, Mr. Johnson,” said Mr. Jones.
“This is a Type 40 TARDIS,” Mr. Jones said. “I can operate it. Mr. Smith’s report of earlier indicates that Lady Romana and Lord Robert argued because she had broken in to his TARDIS. The only way to get in is the key. Presumably, then, she has a Type 40 TARDIS key, indicating that she has a Type 40 TARDIS. Ergo, I can operate her TARDIS once she or Lord Robert repairs it.” Mr. Jones almost smiled.
“Your logic is impeccable, Mr. Johnson.”
“Thank you, Mr. Jones.”
“Well,” said Robert, rising from under the console. “Here it is.” He held up the quantum tube. “And I’m sorry, but you’ll never get it.” With that, he threw it to the floor with all his might. It crashed into the ground with an ear-splitting shatter, sending debris from the tube all across the room. No piece was bigger than a square centimeter. It was completely ruined.
“Foolish,” said Mr. Jones, firing his weapon. A bolt of blue light shot out, striking Lord Robert in the chest. He screamed as his body warped and rippled horribly, finally shrinking down to a point and disappearing.
“No!” Dwight yelled.
Romana coiled like a spring, ready to jump, but Mr. Jones was too fast, pointing his gun at her. She froze.
“He was very foolish,” said Mr. Jones, displaying no emotion. “You will now-“ he did not get a chance to finish the sentence.
Stevens leapt through the air with a primal scream, tackling Mr. Jones to the floor. Mr. Jones looked genuinely surprised as the two collapsed in a heap, the weapon flying away from him.
Mr. Smith and Mr. Johnson spun toward the struggle, their weapons ready should they get a clean shot.
Dwight took the opportunity to tackle Mr. Smith to the ground, where the two proceeded to grapple for the weapon.
Mr. Johnson spun to face Romana, concluding that she would attack him. He was wrong. She was not where he left her. Instead, she was at the controls. His research of TARDISes had taught him well, and he recognized that she was attempting to operate the communications array. If she got a message to the Time Lords, all would be lost. He pointed and fired.
Romana noticed him at the last moment, and ducked safely under the console as the panel she had been working on exploded into flames, shrunk away, and disappeared.
Dwight and Mr. Smith struggled for the gun, neither gaining the advantage.
Stevens bellowed incomprehensibly as he beat Mr. Jones on the floor. Mr. Jones suddenly disappeared, reappearing across the room. He pointed to his weapon which materialized in his hands. He fired at Stevens, and Stevens wailed in agony as he was shrunk into zero dimensions.
“Cease your hostilities,” Mr. Jones said, pushing his weapon into Dwight’s back. Dwight sighed and put his hands up.
Romana stood, wiping debris from her dress. She glared at Mr. Jones. “You are now a murderer. And I don’t like murderers.”
“Your desires are irrelevant to this operation,” said Mr. Jones. “This operation is over. The difficulty is getting too high. We will leave this place at once and seek out a different TARDIS.”
“Excellent,” said Romana. “But when the Xoloans hear of this, and they will hear of this, you will be hunted across all of space. And when the Time Lords hear of this, you will be hunted across all time.”
“That will not happen,” said Mr. Jones, as Mr. Smith and Mr. Johnson joined him.
“And why not?” Romana queried.
“Because we will reduce this planet to a single point before we leave.”