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Sleight of Hand (4/10)

Title: Sleight of Hand
Characters: Seven, Ace, Romana, Original
Word Count: 2890
Rating: PG
Summary: The Doctor, Ace and Jenna continue to search for the Key to Time
FollowsCuriouser and Curiouser
Notes: OK, this is yet another story version of a sim done by "Dr Who & Co". This follows "Curiouser and Curiouser". This one is a bit long, but you can blame the same folks : ) Enjoy!. This was first posted on FFN on 3/26/02

Part One
Part Two
Part Three



Sleight of Hand


IV

Vivien Fey stood over Romana, smirking at her as she struggled with her bonds. Romana stopped struggling and glared up at Vivien, a look of disgust on her face.

Morgaine watched the console lights. "When do we land?"

Vivien looked over at Morgaine. "Oh, not too long, I should think. We've been traveling for quite some time." She approached the console and gazed at the readings.

Morgaine looked at Romana, but spoke to Vivien. "This one doesn't look like she will co-operate easily."

"Oh, she will, unless she wants to end up like him." She nodded in Moriarty's direction. Romana looked at him as well and frowned.

Moriarty, who had been watching the proceedings as he attempted to free his bonds, stopped when they looked in his direction.

There was a small thud as the TARDIS landed. "We've arrived!" declared Vivien with a grin. She checked the computer screen.

Moriarty slipped a hand free. This is not the partnership I meant!

Romana could not contain her curiosity. "How did you get released from being turned into stone?" she asked while trying to untie her own ropes behind her back.

Moriarty listened closely to learn more about the women he made the mistake of partnering with.

"Why, my good friend Morgaine released me with her 'Magic'."

Morgaine laughed. "A rather simple potion actually."

"Not even the Megara could defend against sufficiently advanced technology."

"There's no such thing as magic," Romana muttered. "Only science and illusion. And you're a fool if you think otherwise."

"Anything sufficiently advanced enough is often called 'Magic' by primitive people, Romana. You should know that," said Vivien.

Romana . . . she was with Holmes and that other fella, the Doctor, remembered Moriarty.

Morgaine had had enough of chitchat. "Now, Time Lady, are you going to tell us where to find the segments or must we get... insistent?"

"And why should I? You can do what you want, I won't tell you."

"Oh you are brave for yourself, I was sure of that," Morgaine continued. "But you are in your first incarnation and if you were to die, not only would you die, but also all your regenerations throughout time. And who knows how many others that were affected by you and your future selves."

"I think you'll change your mind," added Vivien. "We're now on Amanos where the Princess, no, the final segment of the Key to Time is hidden. Our goal is within sight!"

"My life is not important. If you had your hands on one segment, and I saw the sort of things you did with it . . . If I let you get your hands on all of the segments, I shudder to think what would happen."

"So you should Romana, so you should." Vivien grinned evilly.

"But what of all the other lives, eh?" asked Morgaine.

"The lives I touch wouldn't be important compared to the fate of the entire universe." Romana resumed struggling.

"Romana, our goal is not chaos! Our goal is order!" Vivien informed her.

"Somehow I doubt that."

Moriarty rolled his eyes. Great, I'm stuck in here with the Weird Sisters.

" 'For want of a nail a shoe was lost, for want of a shoe a horse was lost....' The consequences could build rather quickly," said Morgaine.

Vivien seemed to be experiencing a "power high". "Unyielding order among the cosmos... controlled by me..us."

"Your version of Order, I suppose."

"You shall see soon enough, Romana.. Soon enough." Vivien opened the doors.

Moriarty watched eagerly. Just go outside, witches! I want my TARDIS back!

"In case you think about escaping while we're gone, I've rigged a failsafe. You try to open these doors and the room will fill with poisonous gas not even a Time Lord can withstand for long. See you later, Romana." She looked over at Moriarty. "The same goes for operating the dematerialization controls." Moriarty glared at her.

Morgaine and Vivien left, and, as soon as the doors closed, Moriarty whipped out his free hand from behind his back and removed his gag. "Damn those hags!" he declared as he untied his legs. He stood unsteadily and walked towards console. "Where the hell could she have placed it?"

Romana, who had continued trying to untie her ropes behind her back, cleared her throat.

Moriarty looked at her. "Did you notice anything? Just nod. I don't want to hear a female voice right now."

She glared at him. "You are certainly not the gentleman I heard the Conan Doyle Moriarty was."

"Fine, I'll untie you. If we can locate the gas, we can both get out of here." He walked over and freed her hands. "His Moriarty was an old man."

"As for the gas, that's elementary. They seem to think we don't know how to work our TARDISes. And thank you," she said as she rubbed her wrists.

"You're welcome. Moreover, I know how to work my TARDIS, fine. I've kept ahead of Holmes all this time and finally got rid of him for good," he gloated.

"I wouldn't be so certain of that." She bent down and opened a panel on the bottom of the console. "It would be fixed to the servo mechanism that operates the door." The opening of the panel triggered a timer countdown. They had only three minutes. "Oh, no...they've got a timer built into this."

"Great. Her failsafe has a failsafe." He dug through his pockets and pulled out a pencil-thin laser. "Here. Do what you can. There must be another set to the demat circuits."

Romana took the laser absently. "Hm, red or blue. . ." She looked at the cords snaking out of the timer. "Or perhaps yellow or green." Her fingers hover over the cords as the seconds ticked away.

*******************************************************************************************

With a wave of her hand, Morgaine changed both hers and Vivien's appearance to that of two guards. The two walked out into the Amanos morning. "I sense a piece nearby, Morgaine. Do you?"

"Yes, this way."

Vivien followed purposefully. "That castle yonder is where the piece lies," she whispered.

"Don't forget to scan these dolts' minds to learn the proper names to quote as our authority."

"Don't worry Morgaine, I've got everything well in hand."

Morgaine paused and looked back at TARDIS, now disguised as tree. "Idiots."

Vivien and Morgaine approached the castle and crossed the wooden drawbridge acting as if they belonged there. Once in the inner courtyard, Morgaine called for the commander of the guard. A guard half-asleep at the gate glanced up then jumped at the barked command, dropping his spear. He blushed as he tried to retrieve it discreetly. "Quickly man, we are on the personal orders of the King."

"You know the stranger, the woman that came here recently?" Vivien questioned.

The guard was bemused. "The King? Who... who are you?"

"We are transfer officers from Amodd. . .in the East," Vivien answered. "We are here on authority of King Adam of Caravel."

"You should answer the Captain's question, not ask your own!" demanded Morgaine.

The guard narrowed his eyes. "Yes. What woman? Not the strangers, ye mean?"

There's more than one of them?" Vivien looked at Morgaine.

"Who else is here?"

"The pig herder, Ivan the shepherd, the blacksmith brothers..."

Vivien shook her head. "No no no.. you simpleton! I mean a Princess of a far off country. She goes by the name of Astra. We are here to take her to Amodd on King Sarnoff's orders."

"Oh! You mean the king's friends. Then why didn't ye say so? No need to get snippy. They're up there." He signaled with his thumb toward the tower hall.

"Who are these other strangers?" questioned Morgaine.

"Do I look like the king's secretary? All I know is they're in there." He pointed behind him into the castle great hall.

"The King's friend is in grave danger, try to be alert for strangers," Morgaine informed him.

"I'm always alert," the guard said as he settled back down for another nap at the gates.

Morgaine stepped on his toes as she walked by. "Mind you don't lose your head."

The guard grabbed his foot after they had walked away. "Ow! What's become of the manners these days?" he asked himself as he rubbed his sore appendage.

Inside the castle, Vivien lead the way down a stone corridor. "I made up most of those names off the top of my head," she whispered. My but that guard was dim."

"If dolts like that are all we face, the deed is as good as done," Morgaine smiled. She climbed a flight of stairs and knocked on a heavy oak door. "Open in the name of the King!"

There was the sound of rushing feet on the other side of the door before a young female voice squeaked as a large platter clattered to the floor. Vivien raised an eyebrow then smirked at the incompetence of the castle's inhabitants as fine red wine spilled out from under the door.

A muffled voice carried through the door. "Mon Dieu! So sorry, your highness."

Vivien impatiently tapped her foot as she waited for the door to open.

Another female voice answered the first as it approached the door. "Margo, clean that mess up. You're embarrassing us in front of the Princess." The door opened a crack and a young serving woman peaked out. "Yes?"

As the wine touched Morgaine's foot, the guard illusion flickered. She jumped back from wine. "We have been sent to hide the Princess."

The woman narrowed her eyes at the guard kicking wine off his boot. Vivien spoke to get her attention. "We're guards from the kingdom of Amodd. We're here to transfer the young woman in asylum to our Castle Sarnoff."

"By whose orders?"

"King Sarnoff the...XXXIII."

"Bring her at," the voice reverted to Morgaine's own, "once." She coughed and looked at Vivien.

The servant shook her head. "The king wanted her kept here. She's quite comfortable."

After a worried look at Morgaine, Vivien faced the servant. "Where is your King, We have a royal writ from King Sarnoff himself. We wish to gain an audience with him."

"Tell them someone is coming to kidnap her," Morgaine whispered.

"She is in great danger here," Vivien continued. "This kingdom is about to be invaded by beasts the likes of which you have never seen."

"His Majesty should be in his Solar about now. You should speak with him. My orders are clear. I am not to release her to anyone without his express permission."

Morgaine drew her sword. "And we have our orders."

Vivien put a hand on Morgaine's sword. "Now, now, don't be so hasty. She's only doing her job. Let us go to see the king." She smiled amiably at the servant. "Very well, we shall speak to your king." And frighten him out of his wits.

Morgaine slammed the sword back into its scabbard. "Very well."

"Good day to you." Vivien turned and walked back the way she came. Morgaine stepped carefully around the wine and followed.

"The solar is that way," said the servant as she pointed them in the opposite direction before slamming the door behind her. They didn't hear the servants muffled withering "Guards."

Vivien whispered to Morgaine, "If you can conjure up some of your illusions, you can convince the King that they really are being invaded by all manner of creatures."

"Should have reverted to myself and turned her into a rat," Morgaine muttered. "Blasted wine must have been blessed, it almost ruined everything."

They arrived at the solar, a large, open room covered in windows and bathed in sunlight. The king sat on his throne, strategically placed so the sun shone only on him, leaving most of the room in shadow. He wore a royal blue robe and leather jewel studded jerkin and smiled.

Morgaine, fearing it would be her own voice, whispered, "Your Majesty." Upon hearing the guard's voice, she spoke louder. "Your Majesty!"

The king heard the guard's voice. "Hmm. Enter."

"Thank you, your Grace." The two entered the sunlit room and winced at the bright light.

The king stood and welcomed the guards. "Hello. You must be the guards from Amodd I sent for." He smiled.

Vivien was startled. Amodd? I just made that name up.

Morgaine heard her thoughts. You must have picked it up from that stupid guard's weak mind.

No I didn't. It was of my own accord!

"You and your honored guest are in grave danger, sire," said Morgaine.

"Oh? Danger from what?"

"A great wizard is coming to attack you and steal the Princess. He calls himself 'The Doctor'."

" 'The Doctor'? An odd name for a wizard, to be sure." He sat down calmly.

Vivien looked suspiciously at the King. "You are King Adam of Caravel, aren't you?"

Morgaine turned to Vivien. "I will check the outlook in the hall. With your permission, Majesty," she added.

The king nodded. "Go ahead. Have fun."

Morgaine stepped out of the room and went to a window. Checking to see that no one was around, she reverted to her real self.

"Tell me more of this wizard. How do you know of him?"

"He has been a scourge of our kingdom for many centuries. He's quite crafty and manipulative, playing people to his own devilish ends. He's responsible for thousands of deaths."

"That could describe any normal man, except perhaps, living for centuries. If we could learn of his weaknesses, we can play upon them. What makes him so dangerous a wizard?"

"He can travel through the winds of time, Sire."

"That does make a man dangerous." He pondered the information. "And Sarnoff sent you here to warn me? He must wish to combine forces."

"That it does, Sire. Sarnoff has informed us of his intentions to do so. I've a question. How did you know that it was Sarnoff who sent us, and that we came from Amodd?"

"The insignia on your uniforms, of course. But you are wise to be cautious. Does this Doctor have the ability to disguise his visage?"

Morgaine, back in the guise of the guard, returned to the solar. "All is clear." She heard the king's last question. "He has changed appearances several times through the centuries, sire."

Vivien was still suspicious of a king that apparently could read her mind.

"You must be thirsty after your journey." Adam motioned to a decanter on table. "Some wine?"

Vivien politely declined. "No thank you, Sire, I don't partake of alcohol." Morgaine looked suspiciously at wine after what happened outside the Princess's door.

"Very wise. I can have some water brought up. So, would you know this Doctor, should you see him?"

"Unless he has changed yet again, then yes, your Majesty," answered Morgaine.

"If he's not changed again," said Vivien at the same moment.

"Very well. Then I shall count on you to tell me of his arrival. I shall have rooms prepared."

"Thank you, Your Majesty," Vivien said with a smile, covering up her suspicion. Morgaine looked at her.

King Adam crossed the room to a bell-pull and tugged on it. A few moments later, a servant appeared. "See that a room is prepared for these guards from our neighbor in Amodd."

"As you wish, Sire." The servant bowed and left.

Adam looked at the guards. "Is there anything else?"

"Only that the Princess comes with us tomorrow morning to Amodd. Our king feels that she would be most safe there, due to the planned attack by an evil army of beasts from a neighboring kingdom," answered Vivien.

"I'm sorry, but I cannot allow that. She has been placed in my care and I cannot easily hand her over."

"Not even with an official order from our king?" She held out a piece of paper that Morgaine slipped her a second ago.

"But this 'Doctor' knows she is here and that means that it is no longer safe for her," added Morgaine. "And your guards are of no use as he can appear within your defenses, even inside her room if he wishes."

"The Doctor is also the master of the beasts that are set to attack any minute."

"I can hide her easily from this Doctor. If you must, return to Amodd and bring more troops. I will not send the Princess away."

"Nothing can hide her from his wizardry, sire," said Morgaine.

Vivien barely hid her rage. "Very well, your highness." She looked to Morgaine. "Come, let us retire for the night in the rooms the King has so kindly arranged for us."

"Very well, if we must."

"Rest well, and should you need anything--except for the Princess--ask for a servant."

Vivien smiled as she left the Solar. "Thank you, Sire."

"You are most gracious, your Majesty," said Morgaine.

Once outside Vivien turned to Morgaine and whispered, "We return to the princess's room tonight and take her ourselves."

Morgaine was steaming in anger. "I tire of these fools as well. "This kingdom shall have a surplus of rats by tomorrow."

With a look back at the door to the solar, Vivien said, "I think it already has one."

Morgaine smiled despite herself.

Back in the solar, King Adam smiled at the closed door. "What fools these mortals be."

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