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Sleight of Hand (9/10)

Title: Sleight of Hand
Characters: Seven, Ace, Romana, Original
Word Count: 2361
Rating: PG
Summary: The Doctor, Ace and Jenna continue to search for the Key to Time
Follows Curiouser and Curiouser
Notes: Only 1 more to go! 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
Part Seven
Part Eight



Sleight of Hand

IX

Moriarty followed Arcanus down to the solar, still holding the jar containing Morgaine at arm's length. "Now what?"

"Now, we simply wait and watch," said Arcanus as he turned into the Solar.

"Is it true what the guard said about these...bugs?" he questioned, indicating Morgaine. "The Doctor and his friends could head right into a nest or something."

"I'd be surprised if they didn't. They're everywhere in the forests this time of year. However, Time Lords are not affected by Mind Candy venom. As for the human guard...if he gets stung, he gets what he deserves for being a turncoat." He stood by a large window sillouhetted by the afternoon sun.

Moriarty put the jar down on an antique table. "If they do get stung, they'll need medicine, antiserums, and this castle would surely be the only nearby source." He turned to Arcanus. "I'd set extra guards around the perimeter. Wait! Better yet, let them in but not out." He grinned.

Arcanus nodded. "Trav's probably put two and two together about who I am by now and is probably setting off to settle the score she seems to have against me." He turned and grinned. "I like the way you think, Moriarty!"

"It's a knack"

"Little resistance in getting to the apothecary.. Yes, then once they have what they're looking for and are all happy and joyful, then spring the trap. Yes, that would really take the wind from their sails."

"What do you think Vivien will do to get them?"

Arcanus shrugged. "I'm not really sure about Vivien. I've learned not to trust many people. However, she seems to really need her friend there...possibly only to gain the rest of the segments."

Morgaine bounced against side of jar as she judged it's strength. She rebounded, head smarting. So he doesn't trust Vivien...hmmm, not as stupid as he looks, obviously.

Moriarty stepped back, startled as the jar lurched a little. "She knows that Morgaine and I are her only way off this planet."

"I think she'll be loyal for her benefit at least."

Moriarty walked about the room, looking at the treasures. "So, how did you find out about this place? I don't recall ever hearing about it before."

Morgaine alighted on the lid and walked around, examining it.

Arcanus stared out at the blue sky. "The old King used it for meditation and contemplation, I'd imagine. It is rather stunning out there when the sun rises and sets. I'm usually here to meet and bid it farewell. I don't sleep much these days," he said contemplatively.

"You're a bit of a romantic, aren't you? What I meant was the planet."

"Ah, well Trav's been her more often than I have. Actually, if she hadn't given me the location, although inadvertantly when I raided her TARDIS's memory banks, I wouldn't even be here. She's in a great amount of Amanos' history books...kind of sickening, really."

"Yeah, well a few Earthlings think I should be more like that creation of Doyle's. So you knew she'd be back and came to wait for her."

Arcanus grinned at Moriarty's question. "Well, that's part of the reason. But mostly it was when I was approached by the Black Guardian and told of the immense power I could obtain upon gaining all six segments. Destroying Trav's beloved Kingdom of Caravel and ultimately her with the immense power... well that's icing on the cake. You've heard of the Black Guardian, haven't you Moriarty?"

"Who hasn't? How can you be sure that the Guardian just won't take it from you once you've gathered all the segments?"

"I've thought of that as well. As I said, I trust no one. After obtaining all the segments, I shall be more powerful than the Black Guardian himself." Arcanus spoke calmly, but a mad fire was burning in his mind.

"Ah." Moriarty filed that piece of information away.

"You're not thinking of betraying me, are you?"

"No, of course not. What would that get me? I just want my TARDIS back."

"I should hope not." Arcanus patted Moriarty on the back, all buddy-buddy. "Good, good."

Moriarty looked over at his new "friend" and wondered what he had gotten himself into--and how he could get out of it.

"Come, let's go and prepare our apothecary ambush."

Morgaine tested the holes in the jar lid. Blast! Can barely fit more than a leg thru that. Nothing can fit thru there but the stinger and those blasted Time Lords are immune. Left alone, Morgaine flew to bottom of jar then rapidly to the opposite top again and againin an attempt to tip over the jar.

Almost at the door, Moriarty stopped and went back for the jar. "Not leaving you out of my sight, witch." With the jar in hand, he rejoined Arcanus in the corridor.

Arcanus headed for the apothecary, picking out random guards as he went. "You, you... and you, come with me."

"Yes, your majesty!" The guards saluted and followed their "king".

"Make sure they stay hidden," put in Moriarty. "We don't want them to be scared off."

Arcanus gave the guards the orders. "You are to stay hidden until they find the Mind Candy anti-venom. Once they find the serum, then ambush them."

"Odds are, not everyone will show. They might just send in a few for a raiding party."

Arcanus nodded and contined with the guards. "Just remember that if there's a woman with them called Trav be sure to bring her to me. Kill the others."

Obediently, as if hypnotized and in unison, the guards replied, "Yes, sir!"

As the guards turned to go, one bumped into Moriarty and he almost dropped the jar. To get a batter hold of it, he gripped it by the lid.

Morgaine lit on the lid. You might be immune to the venom but let's see how you feel about being stung. She eased her stinger through a hole till it rested against Moriarty's palm. She then stung him repeatedly.

"Ow!" He dropped the jar, which shattered.

Arcanus stared at the broken jar, stunned. "You fool!"

"Well excuse me, but that stinger hurts. Blame your clumsy guards for knocking into me."

Arcanus drew back his hand to punch Moriarty, but noticed the bee start flying up from the broken glass. He stared as the bee transformed into a large bird and flew away, its laughing call mocking him as it flew out of the castle. He ran after the bird, grabbing at it just out of his reach. "No! Damn and Hellfire! Someone shoot that bird down! Archers!" Arcanus stood at the open window, clenched fists on the sill, and stared broodingly at the bird as it disappeared into the thick woodland.

Moriarty looked at his palm and saw the red welts from the stings. "At least it doesn't hurt anymore," he commented.

Arcanus turned suddenly. "It's always you, you, you, isn't it?" He stormed out of the room.

Moriarty looked at the doorway then at the window. "It's now or never." He went outside and headed for the woods and, hopefully, his TARDIS.

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

Adam sat near Chenney. "His fever is subsiding, but...I fear the poison is still spreading." He indicated the spreading red welts.

"I just hope they make it back with the drugs on time," said Jenna.

"Just try to keep him comfortable and cool," the Doctor told her.

Adam put a cool cloth on his soldier's forehead.

In his delerium, Chenney was running up a hill that seemed to grow larger and steeper.

"I hope that Trav, Ace and Alan don't come upon much resistance," put in Roderan.

"If Arcanus knows about these Mind Candies, he may put two and two together," said the Doctor. "We just have to hope that Trav's memory is fully functioning and can get them in and out."

"I noticed that Trav had been acting more level headed recently, so maybe she will be more in control of the situation," commented Roderan

Chenney could feel his mail get hotter and hotter, burning into his flesh. The mail seared into him, melting its way to his bones, he screamed loudly, but all that was heard was a whimper.

Adam put his dampend robe on the welts, cooling them down. He shook his head. "Heaven knows what's going on in poor Chenney's mind. I've not seen anyone suffer through the poison this long."

A misting rain became a cold downpour and Chenney went from burning to shivering.

"It surprises me that with the hallucinations those things cause, they haven't been turned into some sort of cheap thrill by the kids," commented Roderan.

"I doubt they want to risk the outcome should something go wrong," said Jenna. She looked over at Adam. "Do you think we should strip him down more? It seems that his mail is hurting him."

Adam nodded. "Yes."

Do you mean the antidote was always given immediately or that they died before this?" the Doctor questioned Adam.

Jenna carefully eased the guard's mail from his arms. "Doctor, can you help me with him?"

The Doctor gently lifted Chenney just enough so Jenna could pull off his mail from the front.

A flying bear slashed at Chenney, peeling away his armor.

"Usually we get the antidote to them shortly after they're stung. I've only seen a few reach this stage, and this was during the time we battled the empire at White Eagle almost 20 years ago. I was only 18 then.. the youngest king in the history of Caravel. Oh! Be careful.. everything you do to him he sees in his mind, only distorted and unreal."

"Only 18 and leading your kingdom in a war? Remarkable." Jenna looked at him with new eyes.

Chenney tried again to run but the rain turned the earth to mud and his feet sank deeper and deeper into the mire.

"I had a pair of good advisors," said Adam with a smile. "One, my Knight Commander Giles, and two, a stranger I had never met before... named Trav."

The Doctor smiled. "Interesting, isn't it?"

Adam smiled. "Yes, it is." He rewet his robe in the river before putting it back on Chenny.

"I wonder if they've reached the castle by now," mused Roderan.

Chenney fell backwards into the mud, the rain washing over him, turning into a river.

Jenna tried to soothe Chenney. She lifted his head onto her lap. "Just rest. All the nasty dreams will go away. Ssshhh." She hummed a soft lullaby.

Chenney was a small boy lying in his sick bed, and, as his Mother sang to him, he began to drift off into a restful sleep.

Jenna kept humming until she knews he was sleeping. "Never fails," she said softly.

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

Trav and the others reached the perimeter of the woods near the castle, and stopped for cover. "This is going to be pretty tricky. Usually the castle has guards stationed up on the castle walls all around."

Alan looked at her. "Arcanus's probably got everyone on the lookout for us, man. I don't know if we can find a way in." He gazed up at the castle, backlit by the evening sun. "If we could wait until dark..."

Trav shook her head. "Chenney doesn't have that long. Any ideas, Ace?"

"I could put together a...distraction," she said looking up hopefully.

"What kind of distraction?"

"It won't be big, honest," she said with a grin.

"Dude... pyromanic! Let's do that!" Alan was excited.

"Yeah!" She grinned at Alan. "And I still have plenty to spare."

Trav looked uncertain. "Well, it may work, if we can get close enough to make a break for the secret entrance. I doubt entering by the main gate would work this time around."

Ace started rummaging through her rucksack. "I could set it up on a timer, we'd just have to choose which entrance we want."

"All right. We throw the explosive then, as soon as it explodes, we head to the left side of the castle near a large stone with the words The World Is Square written on it. Under that is a secret entrance to the castle. It's a large stone tile. Can't miss it." She led the group a little closer to the left of the castle, but still out of view in the dense forest cover. She finally reached a spot that looked ideal. "OK, Ace, do your stuff."

Ace set up the cannisters and set the timer.

"Trav, how long have you been coming to this place?" questioned Alan.

"Um, we might want to run for it. I did give us a couple of seconds."

Trav smiled "Let's go!" She dashed out of the woods towards the far away tile.

Ace dashed after Trav, making it to cover just as the explosion went off. Alan strode along beside them, looking back to see the nitro explode and send great clods of dirt skyward. Commotion ensued thankfully drawing attention away so they could reach the tile unseen.

Ace grinned. "Right on time!" She quickly clapped a hand over her mouth as a guard ran past.

"Ok." Trav took an edge of the stone, scooting it up and off of a stairway leading downwards. "Hurry.. inside before we're seen." She guestured them to enter before her.

"Right-o! First one down..." Ace disappeared into the darkness.

Alan stepped down into the depths. "Right behind ya."

Trav entered and pulled the stone back into place above her. At the bottom of the stairs was a dark tunnel lit by gaslight fixtures. On the walls were words carved in the old Amanos tongue.

Alan looked at the writing as they passed. "Cool."

Ace stared up at one of the gas lights. "There's something.... Someone else's been here, if these are on, you know."

Trav shrugged. "This place is usually kept lit. I used to come down here all the time to think. I made a lot of these writings myself. Just poetry mostly...observations and the like," she said matter of factly.

"I thought you said this was a secret entrance," Ace said.

"It is, but not to me, or the King. The real king."

"But the King's been locked up in the tower and you've been on a different planet." She glanced around uneasily.

Trav looked at Alan and answered his question from earlier. "I've come here many times before I regenerated. I knew King Adam since he was a young king.. Actually, I was almost imprisoned in that said tower as a spy. It's a long story." She chuckled.

Alan ran a finger along the wall. "This looks like the foundation of another castle. The construction is different."

"Yeah, yeah, back to the lights," Ace was not be be deterred. "I don't know about the lights here, but gas lights don't stay on indefinitely where I come from."

Trav looked sheepish. "Well, the kind of gas that they use allows them to stay on indefinitely," she said with a shrug. "Ok, the apothecary should be right above us," she said as they came to a metal ladder against the wall of the tunnel. She climbed it, pushing up a piece of stone floor a tad to see if anyone was about. "The coast's clear. Stay down here, you two. I know where the serum is kept, and I'll hand it down to you." She could tell by their faces they were ready to say something. "No arguments." She stepped into the room, behind the apothocary's counter. She searched among the labeled vials and beakers. "Ok, now, it's here somewhere," she said as she bent over.

Ace glared up the ladder where Trav disappeared and turned to Alan. "Okay, what now?" She shrugged and took out a pack of cards, flipping through it. "I'll bet you three out of ten at Gin."

Four soldiers and Arcanus entered the apothecary. "Well, well, well. We meet again, Trav."

Trav heard Arcanus's voice andgently rolled the bottle of serum she had found towards the hole. Someone please be there to catch it.

Alan stepped forward, and the phial fell down in his coat. "What the?!"

"I don't know how you managed to get past my guards, but I really don't care. The important thing is you're her now," said Arcanus. "Stand up. I prefer to see who I'm going to give a slow death to."

Ace motioned for Alan to be quiet. "I hear someone up there with your friend." She exchanged a glance with Alan at the mention of "slow death".

Still stooped over, Trav wrote a note on a piece of paper: Run back to Chenny, quickly.. I'll be fine and shoved it out down the hole with her foot as she stood. "Hi, Arcanus. My, you haven't changed a bit." She slowly crossed to the front of the counter.
Alan got the vial out of his coat. "It's the serum!" he whispered.

The note floated down in front of Ace. She caught it and read it before wordlessly handing it to Alan who read it as well.

"One of us should take the serum back," whispered Ace. "Shall we flip for it?"

"But she said we should both go."

"Where does it say that? Just says 'run back to Chenney'. Doesn't say which one of us."

He thought on what Ace had said. "I...I'll stay here. You go on and save that Chenny, guy, Ok?"

"Right." Ace took the serum and gave him a mock salute. "Oh, you might need this." She handed him a small canister before picking up her sack and disappearing down the corridor.

"Thanks! If I can, I'll see that old 'Anus gets it." He tried to look menacing.

Ace grinned and rounded the corner out of sight.

Arcanus motioned for Trav to follow him. "Come along, Traveller. Let us go to my solar."

All this for one woman? Must be a witch. The first guard pointed his crossbow at Trav. "You heard the King, move Witch!"

Trav put her hands up and headed out of the apothecary.

The second guard pointedly cleared his throat "What?" questioned the first without looking at him. The second guard held out a bolt for the crossbow and the first sheepishly armed his bow and escorted Trav out of the room.

Arcanus followed along, shaking his head at the incompetence.

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

Jenna sat on the ground with the sleeping Chenney's head in her lap. "Doctor, what about Astra?"

Roderan looked at the others and thought aloud. "I wonder if war has broken out yet."

"Once we get Chenney that antidote and can find a way safely back into the castle, we'll get her," the Doctor told them. "She's safe where she is now."

"Can you be sure?" questioned Jenna.

"Arcanus wouldn't harm her in any way. She's too important as a hostage should the need arise."

"I'm not sure myself," said Adam. "Most of my own men...I can't even recognise anymore."

While Chenney felt his Mother cradle his head and rock him, Jenna felt her feet going to sleep and fought the urge to stretch her legs.

The Doctor looked thoughtful. "If we only knew who was pulling Moriarty's strings. As we found out in London, he's not on his own."

"You said this Key is very powerful, so it would have to be someone else who knows about it. Why else would he be here as well?"

"True. It is too much for coincidence." The Doctor thought on those who might know about it.

Some bushes to the left rustled and Adam silenced the others. "Wait, I heard something."

Ace ran into the clearing, looked around, and fixed on the Doctor and company. "Thought I'd never find you with all those trees."

"Ace!" the Doctor exclaimed. "Do you have it?"

"Here, Professor." She handed him the vial.

The Doctor took it. "I'm glad you made it. What about Alan and Trav?" he asked as he walked over to Jenna and Chenney.

"Um, they're still...back at the castle. We sort of ran into some trouble and I got elected to bring the cure back here."

The Doctor passed the vial to Jenna who was better positioned to administer it. "What happened?"

"Um...Trav got caught and Alan decided he should play hero," she blurted.

"Oh no." Adam could not believe this news.

"That git posing as the king found her when she was in the apothacary's."

"Trav's very resourceful, but Arcanus is a very... unhinged man," said Adam.

Jenna took the serum from the Doctor and tilted Chenney's head and tipped the vial into his mouth, letting the serum slowly drip.

Chenney felt himself drowning again, water flooding his mouth.

Jenna stopped to let him swallow, before continuing. "I guess we'll have to head back to the castle."

"It looks that way, Jenna," agreed the Doctor. "Trav is resourceful, so we can afford to give her some time while Chenney recovers."

The vile stagnant water seems to become cool refreshing ale to Chenney's mouth. Jenna stroked his head and talked soothingly as he drank.

"But what about Alan, Doctor?" questioned Roderan. "I hope he tries to stay out of trouble."

Chenney blinked his eyes, seeing first four then two Doctors. He asked about the king, but all that the others heard was a groan.

"Chenney? Can you hear me?" Adam waved a hand in front of Chenney's face. "Chenney? Oh, I hope it's not too late."

"Take it slowly, Chenney. Don't try to talk just yet," warned Jenna.

Chenney saw dozens of fingers floating past his eyes. "At least he looks like he's focusing...or trying to," commented Roderan.

"I think he's getting better," in great relief.

The Doctor looked at the invalid and wondered how they could get into the castle. Maybe there's a hut or something nearby.

Chenney tried to rise but only succeeded in moving his head. "M...majesty?"

Adam grinned down at Chenney. "Yes! You're going to be fine! You're one for the record books!" He gently patted Chenney on the arm.

"You had us scared there, Chenney," said the Doctor. "Is there anywhere nearby to hide you? I know you want to join in the possible fight, but you're too weak yet." He looked at Adam. "Your Majesty, do you feel up to what we might need to do?"

"Yes, Doctor.. I must reclaim my throne! My people depend on me."

"Game...Gamekeeper's...shack. He...watches for...poachers," answered Chenney. "Not...not here. At river. Salmon season."

"Perfect!" The Doctor bent over to help Chenney. "Roderan, a hand."

Ace shrugged and moved to help the Doctor herself, slinging Chenney's other arm over her. "On three." She gave the count and stepped forward with the extra weight as they lifted him. Chenney watched the world spin out of control.

Roderan went to help but Ace re-buffed him. "I've got it. He's not that heavy."

Jenna, finally free to stretch, delighted in the movement. "Ah, that's better."

Adam got to his feet and offered Jenna his hand. "Here you go, my lady."

Jenna smiled. "Thank you, majesty." She wobbled a bit as her feet went all pins and needles. Adam help steady her.

Feeling a bit superfluous, Roderan followed behind Ace and the Doctor in case they should need him.

"OK, let's find this shack and get Chenney comfortable before going to help Trav and Alan," stated the Doctor.

"I'm fine," declared Chenney as he nearly fell, only staying upright due to Ace and the Doctor.

"Along the bank, Chenney? Are we on the right side?" the Doctor asked him.

"Just pass the bushes beyond... the willow tree."

Jenna found two stout branches that would make ideal staffs and gave one to Adam, who was still rather weak, even though he would refuse to admit it ande kept one for herself to help her as they trudged through the woods.

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

Morgaine flew into the woods. Vivien! Vivien! Where are you? She changed into a hawk to help her search and spiraled higher. Where has she got to? Morgaine circled above the woods. Vivien! You incompent mortal, Answer me! She spotted her accomplice and swooped down, changing into humnan form. "At last."

"I was wondering how long it would take you, Morgaine," said Vivien as she watch the hawk change form.

Morgaine smiled. "They couldn't keep a lid on me forever."

"Indeed. Now we can join up against the Doctor and his insipid band of humans."

"As Lao Tsu wrote, 'Fight only the battles you know you can win'. There are to many allied against us here for now. Let's go to the TARDIS and force Romana to tell us where another segment is. We can always reurn for the Princess, later."

"You make sense, Morgaine. Yes, let's do that. We'll deal with the Doctor and that fool Arcanus later."

Vivien and Morgaine walked to their TARDIS and soon found themselves face to face with the Doctor and his friends. Vivien stood in their path, arms crossed, looking stern.

"Cessair of Diplos! I thought you were stone." The Doctor couldn't believe it.

"Unlucky for you, I managed to escape, thanks to my friend here. I believe you've met as well," she said, indicating Morgaine.

Morgaine raised an eyebrow at Vivien's use of the word "friend". "Oh, no, they look injured," she said with a grin.

Ace grunted as she felt the Doctor loosen his grip on Chenney. "Oh, no, not her again. Thought your military mates had taken care of her."

"They thought so as well," smiled Morgaine.

Jenna stood to the side and wondered at these two women and their past with the Doctor.

"We come in peace, Doctor," said Vivien. "This time. We come only to warn you."

"Sure, right. Utter bullocks," declared Ace. "They probably caused the trouble they're 'warning' about."

"A warning? From you two? I've had warning from my enemies before," the Doctor scoffed.

"Stay out of our way, or else we'll make sure that none of you make it off this planet alive," stated Vivien.

" 'The enemy of my enemy becomes my friend', Doctor," said Morgaine.

"And what enemy do we have in common?"

"Arcanus," answered Vivien.

"Ah, so you've gotten on his bad side as well."

"And his obsequious lap dog, Moriarty," added Vivien.

"Hard to believe but he's actually a more annoying Time Lord that yourself," said Morgaine and Vivien nodded in agreement.

Jenna was astounded. "He's sided with Arcanus? Ridiculous!"

"I speak the truth," said Vivien.

"He's a weakling but at least has the intelligence to know that he is a weakling," stated Morgaine.

"He must be out for himself," said the Doctor. "Let me guess: he was with you first."

"A mere convience, Merlin."

"Not by choice, I must admit, but yes," smiled Vivien.

Jenna caught on. "He left you and went with Arcanus knowing he could beat you."

"We have all from him that we need," stated Morgaine.

"His TARDIS!" declared the Doctor softly.

"So you just tossed him aside like a piece of rubbish. Typical. You gits are all alike." Ace shifted her shoulders trying to bear Chenney's weight by herself, and glared at the two women defiantly. Roderan came to her aid.

Chenney looked at the three Aces he saw and spoke to the middle one. "I'm... I'm fine..now."

"Yeah, like I believe that. You just stay put. We'll get you there...eventually."

Chenney nodded and immediately wished he hadn't.

Vivien scowled at Ace, but held her temper. Morgaine considered turning her into a playing card, but resisted. "Such a sharp tongue. Mind you don't cut yourself," she said instead.

"You were the one he was working for in London," stated Jenna.

Adam looked at the women and then at the Doctor. "Should we team up with these women, Doctor?"

"I don't believe you were asked," Morgaine said to him coldly.

"What is it you are after? I've stopped you both before."

"The Princess kept in the castle has something of minor value, we desire," said Vivien.

From that comment, the Doctor knew exactly what they're after and knows he has to stop them.

**************************************************************8888

Moriarty ran through the woods towards where he thought his TARDIS to be. If he could just get there first... He heard voices and knew he was too late. He decided to wait and watch from behind a tree.

"And we have a little something that you might want, Merlin."

"You couldnt' possibly have anything we'd want," declared Ace.

"Don't be too sure," laughed Morgaine.

"And what could that be?"

Vivien grinned. "Your precious Romana."

"Romana? "

Morgaine smiled. "Oh, Merlin, whoever said you were thick? Oh, yes, I remember...me."

The Doctor remembered Romana's attack in the Presidential office. That had to be when it happened.

"So it's really quite simple. Either you stay out of our way and let us take the Princess without any trouble, or you'll never see Romana again.. alive, that is." Vivien was enjoying this too much.

"It is so difficult for your lot to--what is it, regenerate--if ripped to small pieces."

Jenna turned to the Doctor. "Doctor, you can't believe they have her. It's a bluff."

"No, they have her. Remember on Gallifrey?" He looked at the two women. "I'll give you a head start now, but that doesn't mean I won't stop chasing you to get her back."

"I would be most diasappointed, if you didn't try," declared Morgaine.

Ace and Jenna made an attempt to go after the two women, but the Doctor held them back with a glance. "If I were you, I'd get going. I don't know how long I can hold them." Vivien looked at him knowing very well that the two girls could not get the better of them. "Of you'll get a few bruises," the Doctor said in answer to her unspoken thoughts.

"Oh Merlin, just give them one of your never-ending lectures." Morgaine spun around, her cape billowing behind her as she turned to leave. She opened the tree they had been standing beside and entered, laughing.

Vivien turned and joined her.

Moriarty, seeing his last chance to get his TARDIS back, ran forward. "No!"

Jenna saw him and stuck out her staff, tripping him. "Have a nice fall?"

"You don't understand! I need my TARDIS! I'm lost without it," he pleaded.

"Oh, I understand perfectly, Moriarty. As would Holmes, I think." The Doctor showed no sympathy.

The TARDIS vanished

Moriarty groaned as his TARDIS disappeared. "Now I'm stuck here with a psycho who wants to kill me." He looked at Jenna. "And Arcanus."

"After all you've done to me, killing you sounds like a good place to start," said Jenna coldly.

Chenney turned to Jenna. "After a little rest, I'll be glad to demonstrate how I got my nickname." He glanced at Moriarty. "One Chop Chenney."

"You sure you're up to it, Chenney?" asked Adam.

"I owe you much, and somehow a few extra needed strokes might be fun with this one." He tried to smile.

"That will have to wait. We could use his help to bring down Arcanus." The Doctor turned to Moriarty. "If you help us, we'll help you."

Moriarty thought over the Doctor's offer. If we get rid of Arcanus, I can use his TARDIS. "Sure. What have I got to lose?"

Ace started trying to crack her knuckles and look threatening. "What you doin' asking him for help? He's the bad guy. He'll stick it to us once he's gotten what he wants."

"With you and Jenna at his back, I don't think he'd consider that a good move."

Roderan chuckled.

"He better not try anything 'cos we got the High Executioner on our side." Jenna grinned at Chenney.

Moriarty gulped nervously. "Once we get Arcanus the truce is off? You won't turn me in?"

"It all depends on your performance, Moriarty. I believe in second chances."

"Fine, let's go help Trav and Alan before he gets any ideas," said Jenna as she headed towards the castle.

"We must hurry. It's time I reclaimed my kingdom!" Adam followed her.

Roderan looked back and then followed.

"I'm right behind you," declared Ace.

The Doctor motioned for Moriarty to go ahead of him. "After you."

"Yeah, just so you can't stab us in the back," said Ace as she hoisted Chenney's arm over her shoulders a bit better and shambled along beside him.

Moriarty looked back at the Doctor and stepped in line behind the others.

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

Once in the TARDIS, Morgaine set it in motion as Vivien checked on Romana. "She's breathing."

"Good. She should be out for some time yet." The rotor column stopped. "Come."

"You can't have located another segment already?"

"No, it's the same one."

"I thought you said something about not fighting a battle you can't win."

"That is talking about a straightforward battle. I have something a bit more devious in mind."

Vivien smiled. "Get the princess while they think we've gone. Beautiful. That will keep us one step ahead of the Doctor."

"Exactly." She opened the doors and the two women stepped out into Astra's room. She was alone and too startled to put up much of a struggle. Morgaine used her powerful hypnotism to force the princess to follow them. "Put her into one of the other rooms and lock the door. We don't want anything to happen to her, now, do we?"

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