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Sleight of Hand (7/10)

Title: Sleight of Hand
Characters: Seven, Ace, Romana, Original
Word Count: 3025
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
Part Four
Part Five
Part Six



Sleight of Hand


VII

Moriarty made his way out of the forest and spotted a medieval castle in the valley. He sneaked past the sleeping guard and into the courtyard. "Now if I can just avoid those witches." He heard voices and hid in the shadows as guards passed by. Soon he entered the castle proper and wandered the halls. He passed an open set of double doors and saw glittering wealth. "Oooh boy!" He peaked around the door and slowly entered the room.

Arcanus stared out at the huge room of the Solar. "Those two fools. Thinking I didn't see right through their disguise. I have a little surprise for them when they try for the Princess tonight," he said softly to himself. "The princess, that beautiful piece of eternity will be mine, I know it!" For a brief second, as Arcanus's thoughts wandered, his mentally projected disguise faltered and he could be seen for what he truly was: a wild-eyed, intense Time Lord, appearing in his late 40s, with a head of unruly white hair.

Moriarty stopped short at the sight and tried to back out without being seen but bumped into a stand and knocked over a vase. Arcanus, hearing someone approach the Solar, he focused his thoughts and his true self was disguised as the kindly King Adam once more. He turned quickly. "Who are you?"

"Merely a lost traveler." Moriarty decided to take on the humble role until he learned what was going on.

Knowing that Moriarty had seen too much, there was no reason to disguise himself as the King again. "A humble traveler." He walked around. "So am I. So am I. Did you know that I once saw the universe form and be destroyed in a single day? I came here to complete a quest. Whatever it takes, be it guile, double dealing, or, well, murder." He smiled at Moriarty's expression.

Moriarty smirked. "I've been known to do almost anything to get what I want as well. If I lined my pockets along the way, so be it."

"Well, you seem like my kind of guy, Mr. ..." he asked as he draped a friendly arm around Moriarty.

"Moriarty." He fingered some of the valuables. "And you are?"

"Moriarty? Like the Holmes villain? My, my... I like your style. I'm Arcanus." The name was said with a flourish as the wheels turned in his treacherous mind.

"Hmmm, seems like I might have heard of that name. I think we may have a few things in common."

Arcanus nodded. "Indeed we may, in more ways than one. You don't come from this planet of primitives for one. You're a Time Lord, my good man."

"As are you, bless your little hearts!"

Arcanus smiled slightly, then suddenly walked swiftly to the large window, staring out once more. "What brings you here, Moriarty? Are you searching for the same thing I am? True Universal Control? Clichéd I know, but..."

"Actually, I was brought here by two witches. I thought I was leading them along when it turned out quite the opposite. They even booby-trapped my TARDIS. I almost didn't make it out. I think they may have come here."

"Yes, I met them earlier. They're still here, you know, in the guest quarters for the royal guard that fool in the tower never uses."

"You know why they're here then?"

Arcanus thought back on the other visitors. "That woman... something familiar about her..."

"What woman? Was she one of the two that came together?"

"She was with several strangers. More that have come looking for the Princess. One a short man in a ridiculous question mark sweater, a boy, a young girl named Ace, and one called Jenna."

"By Rassilon's Beard! They can't be here! I thought I was rid of them!"

Arcanus gasped, suddenly getting very angry. "Great hellgate! She's here!" He threw open the door to the Solar and left Moriarty all alone, standing there.

Torn between wanting to run away and facing the Doctor, Moriarty stood there before rushing after Arcanus.

Come Morgaine. It's time to take the princess ourselves," said Vivien as they prepared to leave their room.

"But first we have to find where that fool put her,"

"Remember, Morgaine, we were at her quarters this morning, when that blasted matron wouldn't let us in."

Morgaine removed something from a pouch and sprinkled it with powder. "Fly, little eye. Show us what we seek."

An image of the Princess appeared as she slept soundly in bed. "Perfect!" declared Vivien.

"Let's collect the little darling and get out of this hovel."

"Splendid!" Vivien made sure the disguise was intact, and exited the guest room. She looked around. "It's as quiet as a tomb out here, come along," she whispered.

Morgaine brushed a hand across her face, changing herself once more into a guard.

The pair came to the Princess's door once more. "It's locked," said Vivien. "We need to open it."

Morgaine knocked on door and spoke in the guard's voice. "Open in the name of the King."

The door opened and a group of five guards appeared and surrounded the two women. "Hello...ladies," said the one in charge. He then threw a glass of water on both of them. Morgaine stared holes through the man.

Vivien reverted to herself. "I thought that King was more than he seemed. He did read my mind! I told you!"

The head guard held up his sharp sword. "Come along, ladies. King Adam has a place for you in his cells alongside the other trouble makers."

"Others?" questioned Morgaine. "Who would that be?"

"You'll find out." He gestured with his sword for them to move.

Morgaine smiled. Let's go quietly, we may find what we seek she sent telepathically to Vivien.

Vivien nodded silently and shot an acknowledging look at Morgaine before the guards led them towards the tower.

Alan strode down the hall. "Ok, man," he said to the Doctor, "I know you wanted to rescue the princess, but I think the thing to do is get outta here as soon as possible. I mean this place is bound to be crawling with Arcanus's hypno'd troops."

"Good point," agreed the Doctor. "Perhaps we should make our way outside to somewhere secluded where we can make a plan of action. I'm sure there is less chance of us being overheard out there."

"All the more fun! The more the better! Would certainly make for a daring escape." Ace was getting the rush.

"Yeah, and our friend here," said Trav as she patted the guard on the back, "can help us get out of here."

"My loyalty is to the King."

"As long as it's not that far," said Jenna. "I don't know how far King Adam can walk in his condition."

"If it will help free my people, I can walk all night," declared Adam.

"Perhaps we should head back to your Time Craft," said Roderan as he helped the weakened king. "Then we can plan in safety."

"It's also in the Castle courtyard," Trav reminded him.

The guard lifted the king in his arms. "I shall be my lord's legs. Relax your Majesty, gather your strength and try to forgive this fool."

"You are forgiven. He even had me fooled in believing him a harmless traveler."

The guard smiled at this word from his king. He then turned to Doctor. "Where to Wizard?"

The Doctor turned to Jenna. "You said you saw Moriarty?"

"I could have sworn it was him, but why.. . .Ah, if he's here, he has his own TARDIS."

"Perhaps we can bypass his lock and use it instead of my own."

"That could work," mused Trav. "I wonder where it is."

Ace waved to the others. "I think I hear someone coming!"

Footsteps sounded from an adjoining corridor and a guard and female servant soon came into view further down the corridor.

"Maybe the guard can act like he's forcing us to another area at gun, er, halberd point or something," whispered Alan.

"That would be the best strategy at this point," agreed Adam. "Set me down."

The guard slowly lowered the king and Roderan and Alan supported him between them. When he saw the king was fine, he unsouldered his weapon.

The female servant nudged the guard with hier and pointed at the party. She looked them up and down. "Those are fine costumes for the Masquerade."

"Move along you lot!"

Trav kept her head down and looked submissive and dejected as she walked along obediently. The Doctor followed Trav's example though it pained him to do so. Jenna found it all rather degrading, but if they look like normal prisoners, they'll be less conspicuous.

The servant and guard, thinking they are the ones being ordered jump to attention. "Yes, s--sir!" sputtered the guard.

Alan shook head and murmered, "Not you, us."

The guard stood in front of King and sneered at the others. "The prisoners, you twit!"

The female servant tried to stay at attention, but started shaking with laughter. "Never seen costumes that outlandish since the Tridonian winter ball."

Trav wondered what was so outlandish about her outfit.

"Thought you refering to me, sir! Thought it was strictly forbidden to consort with castle staff, sir!" He shot an uneasy look at his servant companion.

Adam, depending on the strength of the young strangers, tried hard not to take effrontery at the actions of his staff.

The servant walked over to the party. "I do say, that's an amazing likeness of the King."

The guard blustered to the other guard and servant. "I'm sure you both should be attending to other duties." He turned to his "prisoners". "Come on, the King waits for no one."

They shuffled along obediently until they were outside. "That was close. Where to now?" questioned Jenna.

The guard looked about to make sure no other guards are near before shouldering his weapon and helping the king.

The Doctor looked out over the expanse of hills and woods. He pointed his finger. "Over. . . ." his finger wavered, "there!"

Jenna looked about. "Is there a cart or something we can use? This poor man can't carry the king all that distance uphill."

"There should be something in the mews by the stables," answered Adam. "How to get it is the problem."

"Where is Moriarty's Timeship?" questioned Roderan.

"I'm not sure, Roderan, though I might be able to find something to help us locate it," said the Doctor as he began to search his pockets. "But first I think we should find a way to get that cart."

"I used to have something..." Trav put her hands in her pockets, searching around. "Oh, it's in my other jacket."

"Great," said Alan. "We know where we wanna be, but we don't know how to get there."

The guard steadied Adam and stepped forward. "I can handle that. Being a sargeant tends to keep questions to a minimum."

"Would there be any reason to transport prisoners?" Jenna asked the guard.

The guard snapped his fingers, "If I say you're to be executed in the woods, I could get a pony cart."

"Cool! Let's go get executed!" declared Alan.

"How wonderfully morbid that sounds," commented Jenna.

The guard marched them towards stables.

"Think we could any pyrotechnics into the works?" asked Ace. "You know, execute with a bit of a bang?" She grinned at the Doctor.

"Not now, Ace. We don't want them to know we're gone. I'm sure at some point we'll need your expertise."

The guard hefted his halberd. "Sorry, lass, that's my friend here's job."

"Aww... Would've been fun. Besides, I still need to get that timer down."

"Usually medievel style executions were either hangings or beheadings, but they did burn people at the stake," commented Trav.

"Nobility was beheaded. Criminals and traitors were hung," corrected Adam.

"Just say it's a private execution, or else there'll be quite a few to see us get the chop," put in Roderan.

The guard swelled with pride. "One-Stroke Chenney they call me."

Trav raised an eyebrow, wondering if that was really something to be proud of.

Adam noticed Trav's look. "One stroke is cleaner and more merciful than simply hacking away at the victim's neck."

"I know, Adam, Old Bud, but you've never had to use it in your reign. I just hope Arcanus hasn't tarnished your good record."

"If we can expose him and all that he's done, that will be reward enough."

"Ok, there's the cart. So I guess we just get on board and play nice," said Alan.

"Remember, look like you're on your way to an execution," said the Doctor.

The guard called to the stable hand. "I'll take that cart lad. have to seperate these traitors heads from their necks." He laughed.

As Alan climbed into the cart, he whispered to Trav, "That Doctor guy did un-hypnotise that dude, right?" Trav got into the cart and sat, lost in thought.

"Ok you lot. Get in and be quiet and I'll take you for a little ride," the guard told them.

"Yeah, one with a single ticket," muttered Jenna.

"I hope this works," said Roderan, "as our princess is depending on us."

"I've never been so far away from my TARDIS before. I'm kind of worried about her. I hope no drunks from that pub have started slumming in her," mused Trav aloud.

As the cart bounced down a trail leading into the woods, Alan brought up an important topic. "Ok, Doctor. Have you found that thing that'll lead you to that other Time Lord's TARDIS?"

"Unfortunately, no. I think we'll just need to use a little logic to find Moriarty's TARDIS. They would want somewhere secluded, a place where no one goes."

"That could be just about anywhere in the woods," said Trav.

"How about Perivale. No one goes there," put in Ace, lifting her head from over the side of the cart.

"The woods surrounding Caravel are notorious for dangerous creatures...and Mind Candies," Trave pointed out.

"If they showed up at the castle, they must have been able to see it from where they materialized," said Jenna.

"Yeah, they wouldn't want to be too far from clearing.. Mind Candies?" Alan couldn't believe what he had heard.

"Yeah. Bees with psychotropic venom.. they sting you and you start tripping, basically.."

"Cool!"

"As they eat you alive."

"Er.. not cool."

"Sounds like fun!" said Ace sarcastically.

"And me without repellant," commented Jenna.

"But where in the guide book would it actually say that?" asked Ace. "Would that Mori-bloke actually know about all this?"

"Yes, good points," said the Doctor. "They need to have seen the castle, and also must be close for an easy escape."

"I just thought of something..." Trav looked at the Doctor. "If that Moriarty guy's chameleon circuit works, his TARDIS would look like a tree. Can't see the TARDIS for the trees. Good line. I'll have to write that down." She looked in her pockets for a notepad and pencil. Alan just rolled his eyes.

Jenna groaned. "But can't you guys kinda feel when another TARDIS is around?"

"Well, with me, It's only when mine is around," said Trav. "Now, other TARDISes, they know when another's around, as they like to gossip to one another."

"We can sense when there are disturbances in the timestream, but for knowing when someone else's TARDIS is nearby. . . .no I don't think so," answered the Doctor.

The pony leading the cart chose that moment to shy away from a large oak and the guard could not make it go any further.

"Animals, on the other hand, work on entirely different wavelengths," said Trav.

Adam, who had been nodding off during the ride, was jolted awake. "What's happening?"

"Yeah, who's rockin' the boat?" said Ace as she once more lifted her head from the side of the cart.

"This beasitie won't obey," said Chenney.

"I think we've found the Time ship we're hunting for," said Roderan.

"It's either Moriarty's TARDIS, or a tree full of Mind Candies," commented Trav. "Horses fear them too."

"Splendid," said Roderan dryly.

"It seems we have located Moriarty's TARDIS." The Doctor stepped out of the cart and headed for tree, putting his hand to the trunk. "No, this is it. I can feel it vibrating."

Ace non-chalantly pulled the neck of her jacket up. "We were already off to one execution, so why not?"

Chenney climbed down and hobbled the pony.

Trav jumped down from the cart and touched the trunk as well. "Yep, feels like a more recent type, maybe a 60 or 65. You can tell by the occilations of the vibration."

Jenna lept nimbly over the side. "Yes, from what I remember, it is a recent model, or so that's what Holmes said."

Chenney hefted his halberd. "Or it could be vibrations of the Mind Candies," he scowled.

"Nah, it's a TARDIS. At least I'm pretty sure it is," she added softly.

"Uh, yeah, let's get in there and do some plannin'," said Alan.

"So now that we've found it, what now?" questioned Ace. "So should we jimmy the lock and try to make like some two-bit crooks?"

The Doctor looked at the tree. "Hmmm, how to bypass the lock?"

"Well if you will look to the King I'll give it a whack and see," said Chenney as he spun his halberd.

Trav tapped the side of the Tree to see if the vibration changed. Ace started hunting through her bag and pulled out a canister. Chenny swung the heavy blade against the tree and two buzzing Mind Candies descended from the woods.

"Mind Candies!" yelled Trav.

"Oh crap!" declared Alan to the point.

"Where there's two, there's two thousand! Run everyone!" yelled the Doctor.

"Bullocks!" swore Ace as she snatched up her bag and scrambled out of the cart.

Chenney dropped his halberd, picked up the King and began to run. Trav, Roderan, and Alan legged off as the swarm began to descend.

Jenna took off at a running pace, for once thankful of her sister chasing her as kids.

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