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Prospect and Convenience (1/2)

Title: Prospect and Convenience
Fandom: Doctor Who
Series: Doctor Who/TOC Files
Characters: Ten, Martha, OC
Word Count: 14,562
Rating: G (I believe)
Summary: The Doctor and Martha arrive in Washington DC with plans to attend a social gala, however they soon learn that there is a war going on. However, that's not the only problem. People have gone missing and there have been sightings of mysterious creatures.
Notes: This is the sixth installment in my planned series to have Alan Kelly meet all of the Doctor's incarnations. Thanks to an earlier poll, I have a few ideas brewing for later stories. Thanks to fourzoas for being my beta and making sense of my disjointed scribblings.
Disclaimer The Doctor, Martha and the TARDIS belong to the BBC. Alan Kelly is mine.





Prospect and Convenience

"Attention has been paid to the passing of those leading avenues over the most favorable ground for prospect and convenience."
Pierre Charles L'Enfant in a report to George Washington regarding the planning of Washington DC, 1791



Martha searched through the TARDIS wardrobe in an attempt to find the proper dress for the next stop. What made it tough was that the Doctor wouldn't tell her where and when, just "Think Jane Austen". To Martha's mind, that meant Regency. She smiled at the chance to wear period dress that wasn't a maid's uniform. Maybe they would get to rub shoulders with lords and ladies, even meet Prinny himself... There, that one would do fine. She changed quickly, thankful that is was simple enough that she could do it unassisted.

She hurried back to the console room where the Doctor was puttering while he waited. He hadn't even bothered to change out of his brown suit. He turned and grinned when he saw her. It was nice to see that smile again. It had been rare since Farringham. "Well, where are we?"

"We are here to relax, to cheer ourselves up. I know this woman-well, I know of her-and she throws the most brilliant parties." He bounded to the TARDIS door and pulled it open. "Welcome to Washington DC, 1814."

Martha stepped out into the bright sun and blinked as her eyes adjusted. The city looked nothing like what she was used to. At least when they had gone to New York there had been some familiar landmarks. "Are you sure?"

"All the monuments won't get started for a few decades. But," he pointed, "over there is the Capitol Building. I know it's not the one you're familiar with but that's when it gets rebuilt after the fire."

"'Think Jane Austen', you said. I was expecting London, Bath or Brighton. You know, maybe even meeting Prinny."

"Been there, done that, got the cape. Well, that was actually from Beau Brummel, but..."

Martha let the Doctor prattle on as they walked, pointing out where buildings would eventually be. This was still a city in the making, which gave her a bit of a thrill.

One thing she noticed about the people in the street: not one of them was black. "Doctor, I'm not gonna be arrested?"

"What? Arrested? Why would you be arrested?"

"Hello? I'm black."

"Right." A far away look shaped his face into a comical caricature, as if he had just forgotten where he had put his keys. A grin lit up that look. "No. You probably won't be arrested--at least for slavery. This is the North, not the Deep South. 'Sides, the way things work, I'll likely be arrested first. In fact, you might be considered...exotic."

"Exotic?"

The Doctor nodded his head. "They'd be all over you. Hello, what's happening over there?"

Martha saw a group of people gathered by a storefront window. She followed the Doctor as he walked over and pretended to study the items on display.

"...another last night," a woman said. "That makes five already this week. We shouldn't have to worry about going out at night."

"Then there are the creatures," said a second woman.

"Creatures?" The first woman looked scared. "What creatures?"

"Esther Polk told me that Prudence Campbell saw a strange creature in her yard late Tuesday night. It was as tall as a man, walked upright, and had a snout. She said she couldn't move for ten minutes after it left."

"If that no-good husband of hers would quit drinking himself into a stupor and mend the fence, then she wouldn't have to worry."

The gossip turned to more mundane things and they continued on. "Interesting," the Doctor mused.

"Oh no. You said we were here for fun, to relax. That means no creatures, alien or otherwise."

"Okay, okay. I won't go looking unless I'm asked."

Martha knew that would be the best she would get from him. She wouldn't push for anything more.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Col. Alan Kelly arrived in a narrow alley off a main shopping district. He checked his readings and saw he had about two days here before his mission was over. He'd wander around and get a feel for the place before thinking about getting a room. With the British on the doorstep, he should have his pick.

He strolled along the street, nodding to those he passed. It amused him sometimes how life carried on during a war. Up ahead he could see a small group of women gossiping outside a dry goods store while a couple looked at the items in the window. The couple turned to continue on their way and Alan saw that the woman, dressed in the height of fashion, was black and her hair a bit more modern than the early 19th century style. It was when he caught a glimpse of the man's pinstripe suit and Converse sneakers that he knew there was no one else it could be.

Alan picked up his pace and kept the pair in his sight. They stopped as the woman needed to adjust her shoes. Alan caught them up. "The Doctor, I presume?"

The man turned showing a very boyish face, which looked even younger when he grinned widely. "Alan!" The Doctor gripped his hand and pumped it furiously. He looked at the young woman at his side. "Martha, this is a good friend of mine, Col. Alan Kelly, a fellow time traveller. Alan, this is Martha Jones, my newest friend." His face fell. "Oh, no. I guess our little break is ruined, Martha."

"Break?" Alan wasn't sure if he was hearing right.

"He promised me a gala complete with dancing, ball gowns, good food..."

"And your showing up means something's going to happen."

Alan pulled the two of them aside where they wouldn't be overheard. "This is Washington DC, 22nd August, 1814. In two days' time the British will take the city and burn it. I really don't think you'll find much in the way of galas."

Martha glared at the Doctor. "Another war zone? What is it with you?"

"So you're not here because of the mysterious disappearances?"

"What disappearances?" Alan looked at Martha sympathetically. "I'm guessing your 'break' was ruined the minute he heard about those."

The Doctor continued on. "That doesn't change our destination, though it may change our story a bit."

"What story?" asked Alan as he and Martha fell into step behind the Doctor. "Care to share?"

"Meet the Grand Duchess Martha of Freedonia and her cultural attaché. You can be her ex-military bodyguard."

"A bodyguard with no weapon?" Martha questioned.

"With the city in the midst of a war, carrying a weapon would only get me killed and you involved in an international scandal."

"Ooh, good one," complimented the Doctor.

"Okay, then explain this. If I'm nobility, why am I arriving on foot with only you two?" She smiled, waiting for an answer.

Alan thought for a moment, trying to come up with something plausible for the time. "You wish to walk among the people, something you are denied. Your entourage is small because this isn't a sanctioned visit. Your family doesn't know you're here and this has to remain quiet."

Martha stared. "You honestly just made that up?"

"Yeah. Not bad for on the fly. I'm actually a bit out of practice. Since the TOC went public, we get back stories created for us now."

"Really? That's half the fun, making it up as you go along." The Doctor paused as if getting his bearings. With a chipper "Allons-y!" he changed direction, leaving Martha and Alan to follow.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The Doctor led them down Pennsylvania Avenue and listened as Martha quizzed Alan on the times they had met. As Alan related each instance, the Doctor's mind conjured up the faces of his companions at the time: Adric, Fitz, Peri, Rose, Jack and Sarah Jane. It was interesting hearing it all from Alan's timeline.

"Where are we going anyway?" Martha asked coming up alongside him.

"Where else would royalty go?"

"You're kidding, right?" Alan was incredulous. "We're going to the White House?"

"Technically, we're going to the Executive Mansion. It doesn't get called the White House until Teddy Roosevelt."

"We're going to see the President of the United States? Oh, my God, this is amazing!"

"I don't think I've ever met a President before. I've met other dignitaries and celebrities but no president."

"Like who?" asked Martha.

"Wyatt Earp."

"Met him," said the Doctor, "and Doc Holiday."

"Shakespeare, Queen Elizabeth," Alan continued.

"Them too," the Doctor commented with a smile.

"Should I even bother?"

"Just making conversation," the Doctor remarked innocently.

"Ignore him," Martha said. "I want to know."

"In that case..." Alan continued to list some of the important people he had met and a bit of the background as to how only if Martha asked. It was a pretty impressive list for someone who had been travelling for a relatively short time.

The Doctor saw the guards at the entrance to the White House grounds. "Okay, curtain up."

The guards came to attention as the Doctor and his two friends approached, "State your business," said one while the other kept his rifle aimed at them.

"We are newly arrived in your city and wish to see your President Madison."

The guard eyed them warily. "That accent. You English?"

"We have all spent time in that country but none of us call it home at present." The Doctor held out the psychic paper for both men to read. "As you can see, this is the Grand Duchess Martha of Freedonia." Martha gave both men a haughty look. "The other gentleman is Col. Alan Kelly, her personal bodyguard." Alan simply glared at the two guards. "I am Dr. John Smith, Cultural Attaché to the Court of Freedonia."

"I'm sorry, sir. We can't be too careful."

"I understand perfectly. It's good to know you're so vigilant."

Both guards stood a little taller. "Thank you, sir. It's usually a thankless job."

"But most important. Keep up the good work."

"Yes, sir."

The second guard lifted the bar that blocked the drive and allowed them to pass.

As they walked up to the house, the Doctor began to whistle. It just seemed appropriate somehow.

"Hey, I know that song. It came out in the 60s, I think. My dad used to play it all the time. I can't remember the words, though."

"Really? I must have heard it on one of my visits." He looked at Alan. "Do you know the words?"

"I am not about to break into song on the White House lawn when I'm supposed to be a bodyguard. Very out of character."

"Quite right," the Doctor agreed. I'll get him to do it later. "We need to make a good first impression."

They arrived at the front door and when the butler opened it, the Doctor made the introductions. The butler showed them to the drawing room while he went to notify the First Lady.

"Oh, my God," Martha said in an awed whisper. "I'm in the White House."

"Remember who you are," the Doctor said. "You were raised in a palace."

"Yeah. Right." She tried to put on a haughty expression but only succeeded in looking like she'd just smelled something horrible.

They didn't have to wait long before Dolley Madison entered. She was of a similar height to Martha with dark hair, sparkling blue eyes and fair skin. "I am so sorry to keep you waiting."

The Doctor made the introductions once again. "It is we who should apologize for not sending word ahead of this visit. As this is not an official visit, we couldn't risk any correspondence falling into the wrong hands."

Dolley looked at Alan. "There is something I must ask you and please don't think me rude. You are a British Army officer?"

"I was. I retired after the defeat of Napoleon. I had a tough time adjusting to civilian life so when a friend told me of this position, I thought why not."

"He did come highly recommended," put in the Doctor.

"So you feel no compunction to pass what you learn here to the British forces?"

"No, ma'am. My loyalty is to Her Highness and her family."

"Well said, Colonel." Dolley looked at Martha. "I'm sorry that I cannot introduce you to Washington society as you deserve, but a large number of residents have already fled the city. My husband and others are in the process of relocating the government to a place of safety. You are most welcome to move with us."

"Your offer is most kind," said Martha.

"However, we don't wish to be a nuisance, an added burden," explained the Doctor. "We will only be here one or two nights at the most."

"You can't mean to travel further under these conditions?"

"It is easy for us as we're only three," said Alan. "Her Highness understands the need for travelling light."

"We are also from a neutral country and can pass with the least amount of fuss," stated Martha.

Dolley wanted to argue further but held her tongue. "Let me have a maid show you to your rooms. You must be tired after your journey."

"That would be lovely, thank you."

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Martha tried to rest but was too wound up. She wanted to explore but knew that women didn't do such things at this time, let alone royalty. She paced the room, jealous of the Doctor and Alan who had done just that, using the pretence of fetching the baggage.

She looked about and saw nothing that would help her pass the time. The desk, however, might hold possibilities. She arranged her skirts and sat on the chair. She then searched the drawers for paper and a pen. It wasn't until she remembered that they didn't have ballpoint pens that she realized the quill and ink wasn't just for show.

Martha dipped the quill into the ink, making sure to scrape away the excess as she pulled it out. She began to write a letter to her mother. The ink still blotched when she started but she soon learned the trick of it.

In the letter-a letter Francine Jones would never see-Martha explained what really happened at New Hope Hospital that day. She told her of meeting Shakespeare and saving the world; of being trapped in the worst rush hour traffic; of the pig and the showgirl; of being trapped in a ship crashing towards a sun; of the ill-fated romance between John Smith and Joan Redfern; and of being a shop girl in 1969.

She sat back with a sigh, massaging her hand. It certainly felt better getting it all out, even though no one would ever see it.

There was a light knock on the door. "Come in."

A young maid opened the door. "Excuse me, miss, but Mrs. Madison was wondering if you would care to join her for tea. "

It was only then that Martha realized how hungry she was. "Tea would be lovely. Thank you."

"I've brought water for you to freshen up." The maid walked into the room and set the basin on a small table.

"I'm afraid I only have the one gown."

"The two gentlemen went to fetch your luggage. Would you like my help with anything?"

Martha poured the warm water into the basin and washed her face and hands. "Only to find my way," she said, using the towel.

"You're not at all how I thought a princess would be." She immediately put a hand over her mouth, realizing she was being too familiar.

"Don't worry---what's your name?

"Lizzie, miss."

"Don't worry, Lizzie. I'm not as formal as I used to be. My travels have opened my eyes to all that is out there. It makes everything else so small in comparison."

"I'd like to travel one day. I've never been farther than Baltimore." Lizzie gathered herself together, once more the maid. "If you're ready, miss, I'll take you down to tea."

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Alan followed the Doctor through the streets of DC. "So you really came here for a break? You seriously thought you could get away with that?"

"Things have been a bit...rough for me and Martha recently so I thought a good knees-up would help. I sort of miscalculated."

"Miscalculated into a war zone. Sounds usual for you. Martha seems a nice girl. How did you two meet up?"

"Strange happenings at her hospital. She caught on quick without panicking and risked her life to save me."

Alan felt this was an ideal opening to ask about Rose but somehow knew the timing was wrong. The Doctor would just clam up in that way he had no matter what incarnation. Instead, he kept to the reason they were heading for the outskirts of the American capital. "Any ideas what we're looking for? 'Mysterious creature' is a rather vague description."

"Well, I'm hoping it's just men dressed up in costumes to scare the population. That would be so much easier to deal with."

"And if it's not?"

"Then it'll be much more difficult." He stopped suddenly and crouched. "Now that's interesting."

"What did you find?" Alan asked, coming up beside him.

"Tracks from our mysterious creatures." He reached out a hand to touch them. "They seem canine in nature at first glance."

"So we're looking at wild dogs, wolves, something like that?

"Only if they've learned to walk upright."

"Well, that crosses natural occurrence off the list."

"Put yer hands on yer 'ead!" came the order from behind them in a Mancunian accent. "Turn 'round slowly."

Alan and the Doctor complied and Alan saw four armed British soldiers. A raiding and reconnaissance party most like. He looked to the Doctor for a sign as to what approach he wanted. The Doctor shook his head so there was to be no confrontation-yet. These were only infantrymen after all, and probably had itchy trigger fingers. Keep them calm and no one will get hurt.

"I didn't realize we had wandered so far afield, did you?" the Doctor asked Alan. "You see, we were following the Raphus cucullatus. They're very elusive, you see, so we were naturally absorbed in tracking it."

The soldiers just looked at the Doctor, unsure of how to handle his babbling. The corporal simply motioned with his rifle for the two prisoners to fall in behind two soldiers while he and another followed.

Alan knew this would probably be the only time he could confront the Doctor about something that had been bothering since he had talked with Jack in Cardiff. If he didn't say anything now, he might never get another chance. "Does Martha know about Rose?" Alan asked, jumping into the conversation with both feet. "Does she know what happened to her?"

The Doctor looked at him sideways. "You know about Rose?"

"Jack told me of Canary Wharf. He also says you abandoned him."

"Yeah, well. I was about to regenerate so I wasn't exactly thinking straight."

Alan studied the Doctor as best as he could without actually stopping and looking him in the face. He was holding something back. "There's more to it than that, isn't there? You knew about Jack's...condition when you left." The Doctor looked chagrined. "That's why you left him!"

"You don't understand. He's wrong. What happened to him was wrong and never should have happened. Rose-Rose had the power of the Time Vortex running through her. She brought Jack back to life but unknowingly took it one step further. It changed him permanently, re-writing his DNA in some way even I can't grasp. He won't die-ever."

"All I'm saying is Jack needs an explanation. You'll meet up with him sooner or later as he's waiting for you."

"Then when we meet, it will not be by choice."

Alan spared a quick glance at the soldiers before continuing. "Before we close the topic completely, I told Jack there was a chance Rose survived since you were involved." Alan saw the anguish in the Doctor's eyes and almost regretted bringing it up. "If you don't want to talk..."

"No, no, it's all right. It's just--"

"Shut it!" ordered the corporal.

Oh, so close! "We must be nearing the camp," Alan whispered to the Doctor.

A soldier stepped out from the shadows and demanded a password, which was given as "Badajoz". They were then allowed to pass into the camp proper that was small, maybe fifteen men. Certainly not the main force, that was for sure.

Their escort led them to a tent near the centre of the camp. "Sir, permission to enter," requested the corporal.

"Come in, Butler," answered a tired voice.

Butler pushed aside the tent flap and entered. "We found these two at the spot where Evans and his men were taken," he said as Alan and the Doctor were pushed inside.

Alan saw a tired man in the green jacket of a rifleman's uniform. From his understanding, this was just the sort of thing they'd do, similar to Rangers.

"And just what were these two doing that you felt the need to reveal our presence? Chasing after a stray sheep, perhaps?"

"No, sir, Maj. Sullivan, but--"

"Well, as they're here now we'll-Good Lord! Kelly, is that you?" He moved past Butler to face Alan. "It is you!" He gripped Alan's hand in a firm shake. "Why didn't you say anything, man?"

Because I don't know who the hell you are! Alan thought. The officer, Sullivan, obviously knew him so that could only mean somewhere in Alan's own personal future, he'd meet the man in the past. Alan looked over at the Doctor who offered nothing more than a crooked smile. OK, think of something general. "I don't pull rank anymore as I'm no longer on the army. Even if I had, what were the odds that someone would know me?"

Sullivan chuckled. "You always were a modest one."

Alan heard the Doctor scoff.

Sullivan continued after raising an eyebrow in the Doctor's direction. "All of my men know the story of how you saved my life at Salamanca. Hell, they probably know it by heart."

"I believe most of His Majesty's Army does, sir," put in Butler, his voice now tinged with awe.

"So, what is a hero of the Peninsula doing here?" questioned Sullivan. "Especially one no longer in the army."

Alan looked to the Doctor hoping the man would come up with something to distract them.

"Yes, hello, I'm the Doctor." He gave a little wave. "The colonel and I were investigating some disappearances and strange sightings reported in the city. We had just uncovered some interesting tracks when your men found us."

"'Colonel'?" Sullivan looked at him. "Someone else got a promotion."

"It's a long story," Alan said, not wanting to get into it.

"He's now a royal bodyguard. The promotion came with it." The Doctor grinned.

"Not so long after all."

"Royal bodyguard, eh? Sounds an easy job. Any extra perks?"

Alan held his fists at his sides. "Please tell me that's a poor attempt at army humour. If not, I might need to call you out. And, having saved your life, I really don't look forward to taking it."

Sullivan paled. "There's no call for that. It was uncalled for. One tends to forget the social niceties away from London."

"If you're done with the posturing, we've something more important to discuss." The Doctor looked at the both of them.

"Right," Alan agreed. "Go on."

"Now, Major, your man Butler said he found us at a site where some of your men disappeared, right? And of course you believe the Americans are behind it. Now, the Americans are also experiencing people disappearing and they blame you. This leads me to believe there is a third party taking advantage of the situation."

"The animosity built up from each side blaming the other would extend the war, bringing more soldiers into the area, more people to go missing." Alan considered the implications. "It's a nice little scheme."

"But I don't think that prolonging the war is their main goal. They're taking people and there has to be a reason for it." The Doctor began to pace. "Now, according to my source, both men and women are being taken of varying ages and class."

"An equal opportunity abductor," commented Alan. "No discrimination."

The Doctor ruffled his hair, making it stick out at all angles. "The ages are from teenagers through mid-forties which is considered prime of life, right? To my mind, that means they want workers, labourers."

Sullivan was incredulous. "You two are completely mad! Why would anyone need to abduct workers? They could easily buy them in the southern slave markets."

"That's assuming they had a choice," said the Doctor.

"Stranded?" Alan questioned. "That could make them desperate."

Sullivan shook his head and looked at Alan. "This new job of yours, are you in the sun?"

"You haven't even heard the strange part." Alan looked to the Doctor. "Should I?"

"You know him," the Doctor replied with a shrug.

Alan exhaled. "If I explain it to you, you'd say I was insane and have me locked away. The threat itself is real. People are disappearing, possibly dying, and you can help us try to end it."

There was silence in the tent as Alan and the Doctor waited for Sullivan to answer. They definitely needed the soldiers' help because he and the Doctor couldn't do it alone. There was just too much ground to cover.

"You earned my respect at Salamanca. You kept your head in all that confusion and I don't believe a madman would have. If I can help prevent any more abductions, I will help you."

"Good man!" Alan clapped him on the shoulder. This might work after all.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The Doctor walked back to the city on automatic pilot as he went through his metal catalogue of aliens in an attempt to discover what they were up against. He didn't have enough information, however, to narrow it down enough to his liking. This excursion tonight should give him what he needed.

He only became aware of his surroundings after being poked by Alan. "We need your key."

It was then he saw the TARDIS. "How did you-Right. Forget I asked." He pulled the key out from his pocket and unlocked the door. "You couldn't have opened it yourself?" The TARDIS glowed a little brighter as they entered and the Doctor knew it wasn't for him.

Alan chuckled. "I probably could have asked politely for her to let us in, but as you were here..."

The Doctor went to the console and began to search for traces of alien technology, hoping to narrow down the field. Nothing came up. Must be shielded. Knew it couldn't be that easy, thought the Doctor. He groaned in frustration. Searching the TARDIS memory banks would take too long and waste valuable time. He'd like to have some idea of what he was up against.

He looked up to see Alan dragging a large brass-bound trunk behind him. "What's that for?"

"You really are preoccupied." He set down the trunk and straightened. "We said we were getting clothes so I thought it might be an idea if we actually showed up with some."

"We are not lugging that thing across town."

"We don't have to."

The Doctor grinned. He had forgotten. Alan's machine could handle the "small jumps" that were a bit harder for the TARDIS. "Brilliant!" He bounded over and lifted his side of the trunk. "See if you can get us near the sentry. I need to talk to him."

Alan looked at him questioningly before nodding as he realized what the Doctor wanted.

The Doctor watched in fascination as Alan keyed in the coordinates. For some reason he couldn't explain, it still amazed him that something so small, something worn on the wrist like a watch, could do the same thing as the TARDIS with nary a sign. Nary. I should use that word more often. Nary, nary, nary.

With a small poof of displaced air, they arrived a little ways outside the White House gates unnoticed by anyone. I really should try to examine that machine, find out why the Time Lords didn't stop it, the Doctor thought. "All right, let's drag this up to the gate. I need to talk to our friend the sentry."

They walked up the path and were recognized by the sentry. "Oh, it's you." He saw the trunk. "You didn't carry that all the way across town, did you?"

"Not all the way, no," said Alan.

"We did get a lift for most of it," explained the Doctor. "It's more awkward than heavy."

"I could probably get you a wheelbarrow or cart for the rest of the way."

"I think we can manage. There is one thing you might be able to assist me with. The colonel and I are intrigued by these mysterious creatures and disappearances everyone is talking about."

"I don't think there are creatures," the soldier said. "It's those damn Redcoats dressing up and taking people."

"The British Army does not resort to kidnapping enemy civilians in a time of war," Alan stated.

"You have been away for a long time, haven't you?" responded the soldier. "The Brits have been boarding American ships and taking sailors to work in their navy."

"That's the Navy, not the Army," the Doctor heard Alan mutter under his breath.

"Yes, well, no matter who's behind it, we still want to find out what's going on and we could use your help," the Doctor said placating.

"Yeah? Doin' what?" The soldier was curious.

"We need to watch some of the outlying areas to see if they attack again. We were hoping that perhaps you and some of your fellow soldiers might care to assist us."

"I might be able to round up a few mates. What time?"

Good question, the Doctor thought as he looked at Alan who shrugged. "Say, 10:00 right here? If there's any change, we'll contact you."

"Yes, sir." The man saluted.

"One more thing: I don't do salutes and don't call me 'sir', soldier."

"That's two more things," said Alan.

"Jack. If I can't call you 'sir', you might as well know my first name."

The Doctor wondered if the universe was trying to tell him something or if it was just playing a prank. "And a fine name it is." He bent down to lift his side of the trunk. "C'mon, Alan. We mustn't keep Her Highness waiting."

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Martha was sitting in a very uncomfortable chair attempting to read a book when she heard the Doctor's voice. Her first inclination was to go out there and give them both a piece of her mind. They'd been gone hours! How long did it take to go to the TARDIS and get clothes? Yeah, they were taking advantage of the time to go explore, but they could have at least done it within the time constraints of their cover story. The fact that Dolley was sitting at her desk working on correspondence was the main thing that kept her still. She returned to her book.

She heard him cough but pretended she didn't. After a few moments he coughed again and she made a great show of marking her place before closing the book.

He gave a small bow. "Your Highness."

"Doctor. Please tell me you did not stop at a tavern during your trip."

"Heavens no!" The Doctor truly looked offended.

"We heard stories of strange occurrences, Your Highness, and he felt the need to investigate," said Alan.

"And you could not dissuade him?"

"As Your Highness is well aware, he is most...tenacious when he is following such a course. I did accompany him to extract him from any misfortune he might have encountered."

"And did you encounter anything?"

"Nothing of note, Your Highness," the Doctor answered.

"You were looking into the disappearances?" enquired Dolley as she put down her pen and faced them.

"I can't resist a puzzle," the Doctor said with a smile. "Sometimes they get me in trouble."

Sometimes? Martha suppressed a smile.

"We have heard of them as well but unfortunately my husband has neither the time nor the manpower to spare for a proper investigation. Perhaps I could speak with him to allow you to follow any line of inquiry."

Martha couldn't believe it. Someone was actually giving the Doctor permission to do something he'd do anyway. Maybe having official status would keep them from getting in trouble with the law. After all, who was higher than the President?

"But we're leaving tomorrow," the Doctor refused half-heartedly. "I don't think I'd be able to resolve this in such a short time."

"Then you'll just need to stay longer."

The three of them looked to Martha waiting for her response. "I believe we can do that. We have no set plans. If need be, I can always go with the Madisons should the British come too close."

"Of course you can." Dolley rose. "I'll go speak with James. Do excuse me."

After she had gone, Alan closed the door.

"Where did you go? C'mon, you must've found something to be gone that long!" The two men looked at each other. "You can't deny it. You just told the First Lady that you 'felt the need to investigate'. I can't believe someone is actually going to give you permission to do that."

"I know! It's weird!"

"So what did you find?"

"We found some tracks right before we were caught by some British soldiers," Alan clarified.

"The good colonel found a new old friend." The Doctor grinned.

"For Major Sullivan, I was an old friend, having saved his life. For me--"

"You haven't even met yet." Martha nodded at the Doctor. "Happens to him quite a lot."

"I know. I've done it to him myself. Anyway, we've lined up Sullivan and his men to help us as well as Jack-the sentry at the gate. He said he'd round up some mates to help."

Martha laughed. "You're getting help from both sides? What are you going to say when they see each other?"

"Hopefully they won't," the Doctor answered. "Alan will meet up with Sullivan and I'll be with the Americans."

"What about me? What side do I go with?" The two men exchanged glances. "Oh, no you don't! I am not going to spend another moment here twiddling my thumbs while you two go off chasing aliens!"

"We don't know they're aliens. We only suspect it," said Alan.

"Though it is highly probable."

There was a knock on the door before Dolley entered.

"False-bottom trunk," Alan whispered to her before resuming his position as bodyguard.

What does that mean?

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Alan was patrolling with Sullivan along a quiet residential street while his men-also in pairs-patrolled other sectors close by. He wished he had gotten a closer look at the tracks so he would have some idea if they were close or not.

He took a swig of water from his canteen and caught Sullivan looking at him strangely. "What?" He automatically went to wipe dribble off his chin.

"You really believe all this about aliens?"

"It really isn't that far-fetched."

"Strange creatures from other worlds aren't far-fetched? Please, I'm trying very hard with this."

"OK, think of the sky, the stars, as a vast ocean and the Earth as one little island. These creatures have crashed and need help to get back home. Now, this island has had very little contact with the outside world so, to the survivors, the people are nothing more than primitive beasts to do with what they will."

Alan watched as Sullivan processed his little analogy. Now, if the man were as perceptive as Alan guessed him to be, the next question would be-

"Are you one of them? An alien who thinks of us as primitive beasts?"

Alan couldn't help but smile. "No, I'm human. I'm just from a time when interaction with aliens and other worlds is commonplace." By the look on Sullivan's face, Alan wondered if he'd gone too far.

"So, you're from the future. You'd have to be for it to be commonplace."

Alan didn't have a chance to confirm as shots rang out from one of the other sectors. "We're in luck. Let's go!"

They raced towards the gunfire and Alan couldn't make out the attackers; they were nothing more than vague, moving shadows. He reached into his pocket and activated the beacon that would alert the Doctor they were under attack and give him their location. He made to join the fray but was attacked from behind and knocked out.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The Doctor and Alan had found Jack waiting for them at the gate along with half a dozen soldiers. The men were none too pleased when they learned the one in charge of the mission wasn't even American and a civilian to boot.

The Doctor had reached into his jacket pocket for the familiar worn leather wallet that contained his psychic paper. His fingers brushed over a sheet of thick-stock paper. Right. Forgot about that. He pulled out the letter from President Madison authorizing him to commandeer what he saw fit to help with his investigation. "This should put all your doubts to rest."

Jack had taken the letter and studied it thoughtfully-or he was just a slow reader. "You've got permission from the President himself." He handed the letter back. "What's the plan then?"

The Doctor had explained. "The colonel will meet up with another group near Foggy Bottom while we head towards Southwest Waterfront." He had then reached into another pocket and pulled out a transmitter and tossed it at the other time traveller. "When you see something, start that and we'll come running."

Now, hours later, he crouched behind some bushes waiting on some aliens who might appear. Why did he always let himself get sucked into these situations? Well, at least it's not--No, don't say it! He looked up at the sky, thankful to see stars and a half moon. Nary a cloud in sight, he thought with a smile.

Sightings only happen at night yet there have been people who have gone missing during the day. If the creatures are nocturnal, they must have someone-or someones-doing their dirty work during the day, their own Renfield keeping them apprised of what happens during daylight hours. The question is how? Are they being promised rewards or are they being controlled? He sighed. I really need someone to bounce ideas off of. A fresh perspective to keep me from becoming my own yes-man.

There was a slight rustling behind him and the Doctor turned to see Jack just as he crouched down. "It's been hours, Doctor. They're not coming here tonight. The boys want to head back to the barracks."

"What about you? What do you want to do?"

"I was thinking we could go check out one of those other places. The colonel might need some more help."

At that moment, the receiver in the Doctor's pocket began to beep. Alan had activated the transmitter. "Seems you have the right idea." The Doctor stood and swung himself into the saddle. The horse neighed in protest at the interruption of his meal.

"You can't go off alone!" Jack cried out. "Wait for the rest of us!"

"No time! Head east!" The Doctor spurred his horse into a gallop and rode like he was at Aintree. He knew Alan would be able to escape easily but he also knew that Alan wouldn't do so leaving others behind.

He heard hoof beats coming up behind him and knew it was Jack. He looked at the receiver and saw Alan was now on the move, heading back towards the city. The Doctor made sure Jack was in sight before he turned off the main road. It wouldn't do to have someone wandering these woods.

Then the signal stopped. The device wasn't faulty as it was practically new. The fault had to be on the other end. The transmitter had either been discovered and destroyed or they were somewhere that blocked the signal.

He slowed his horse to a halt and patted its sweaty neck. "Good boy." He straightened when Jack approached. "I lost the signal."

"I don't know how that doohickey works, Doctor, but are you sure it's working right?"

"Well, sure enough to know the signal was coming from this direction, from Washington itself."

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

After the Doctor and Alan left, Martha tried to keep her mind off what they were doing. She even contemplated starting a needlework sampler. Instead, she settled on reading Moll Flanders.

By the time she retired upstairs, she was full of pent-up energy. She had never felt so useless since travelling with the Doctor. At least as a maid she had some freedom of movement. On their next trip it would serve him right if he was the one locked up and she got to do all the action.

There was a knock on the door and Lizzie entered with fresh water. "I'm here to help you change, miss," she delivered in a near monotone.

"Thank you, Lizzie."

The girl efficiently undid the buttons and stays before helping Martha with her nightdress. She didn't say a word the whole time, which was very unlike the girl of the afternoon. Martha was torn between her need for Lizzie to leave and her concern for the maid's change in demeanour.

"Lizzie, is anything the matter?" Martha asked as she watched Lizzie turn down the bed.

"No, miss." There was a pause as if she was deciding what to say. "I overstepped my place this afternoon. I was too familiar. It will not happen again." She spoke it like a lesson learned, no emotion. "Will that be all, miss?"

"Yes, of course," Martha answered absently. She sat on the edge of the bed. She heard the door close behind Lizzie. That was not a simple apology. Being with the Doctor has taught me that not everything is what it seems. She spoke like she was under the influence of something-or someone. I have to tell the Doctor as soon as I see him.

Her eye fell on the trunk in the corner. "False bottom," she whispered. She walked over and knelt beside the trunk. She opened the lid and was gently assailed by the scent of cedar mixed with lavender. She saw at the bottom some sachets as well as plain paper used to separate the clothes. She smiled at Alan's hidden talents. Martha began to look for an edge in order to lift the bottom. She was able to press down in one corner that easily lifted the other side. Underneath, she found a pair of black jeans, black trainers, a long-sleeve navy cotton t-shirt, and a navy hoodie. He had even included undergarments. "Colonel Alan Kelly, you are a marvel."

Martha changed quickly and was surprised once again when everything fit. That man is getting a great big hug when I see him!

She waited close to two hours and listened as the house settled for the night. When she felt that it was safe enough to get about without being seen, she left her room and headed for the kitchen figuring it would be easier to get out through the servants' entrance than the front door. She found the servants' stairs at the opposite end of the hall and used the torch to navigate the narrow decline. How do they manage with their hands full?

At the base she could see a flickering light coming from the kitchen. Hoping someone just left an oil lamp burning, Martha crept closer and peered into the cavernous room. It was empty. No, wait. Something moved in the far corner. As her eyes adjusted she could see it was Lizzie entering the larder. If I time it right, I can be out the door before she sees me. Martha eased across the room and, as she passed, she peered into the larder and saw it was empty. Where could she have gone?

She couldn't help but think 'What would the Doctor do?' and entered the larder. There simply had to be another way out. She noticed a gap between the shelves and gave the wall a closer examination. There was a crack, like a door halfway open. She pried it open and discovered steps leading down into a stone tunnel. "Secret passage, I should have guessed. This has to be where Lizzie went, but why? I guess the only way to find out is to follow."

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Alan came to and found himself in a reclined position, most likely in a cave judging by the stone at his back and the dirt under him. That was all he had to go by, as there was no light at all. His captors must be assured there was no way to escape or he would have been restrained somehow. However, there was some sort of collar about his neck. OK, really don't want to do this. He gingerly reached up to explore and the moment his fingers touched the metal, a jolt of energy surged through his body and he jerk and let out a scream.

"Kelly! Are you all right?" It was Sullivan.

"Yeah, just feeling a bit stupid. I should've expecting something like that. How long have I been out?"

"I'm not sure, maybe an hour. You were singled out by these...things. They put that collar on you before they threw you in here with the rest of us. You're also the only one of the captives here with one. Why is that?"

They must have recognized the advanced technology of the transmitter and my machine. "They must just think me a ringleader, a troublemaker. Probably if I go past a certain point, this will kill me with a charge."

"But why just you? Surely keeping us all in line like that would be more efficient."

Alan had his suspicions. "I really don't know," Alan lied. He picked up a pebble, held it in his hand and tried to use telekinesis. Nothing. That was the main reason for the collar. "Do you know why we've all been taken?"

"The Doctor was right," said Sullivan. "Slave labour. No one seems to recognize where, however. From what they've described..."

"Yes?" Alan prompted.

"It sounds like another planet."

To Part Two

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
fourzoas
Jan. 30th, 2009 04:20 pm (UTC)
I won't be able to read thoroughly and comment until later, but wanted to let you know that a large chunk of the text here is in italics--don't know that you meant that!
blazoningpen
Jan. 30th, 2009 11:55 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I was formatting last night and I guess I missed a "/"! Fixed now.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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