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Prospect and Convenience (2/2)

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.

Part One





The Doctor and Jack were retracing their steps. "If the signal was in the city somewhere, why are we going in the opposite direction?"

"I want to know a bit more about what we're up against before we confront them."

"And you can learn this from the place the others were taken from?"

"You can learn any number of things if you look hard enough. Right, this should be it." He dismounted nimbly, pulled out the sonic screwdriver and switched it on.

"What is that?" Jack asked in amazement.

"Sonic screwdriver. Right now it's acting as a torch." He panned the clearing. "Definitely a sign of a struggle. Just look at all that kicked-up dirt. There is one thing..."

"There aren't any bodies."

"Exactly. It supports my theory that these abductions are for the purpose of slave labour."

"So that means there's a good chance that everyone they took is still alive."

The Doctor looked at Jack. "Good thinking. Yes, they won't be killed outright but it also depends on the conditions where they're being kept."

"So where are they being kept?"

"They seem to be nocturnal. They only come out at night," he clarified at Jack's puzzled look. "Because of that, I'd say they're probably in a cave or some tunnels."

"I don't think there are any caves in the middle of the city." Jack stifled a yawn.

"Why don't you get back to your comrades-in-arms and get some sleep. I can't really do much more tonight." The Doctor turned off the sonic screwdriver and took the reins of his mount that snickered in protest.

"You grab yourself forty winks, Doctor. You won't be able to help much if you're groggy." Jack climbed up into the saddle.

"Just look to yourself, Jack," the Doctor said as he leapt onto his mount. "And, I will have you know, I don't get groggy."

"If you say so, Doctor. Let me know what's happening!" Jack galloped off.

The Doctor waved, forgetting it was night and Jack couldn't see. He then turned his mount back towards the city and the TARDIS, determined to find out what happened to Alan, Sullivan and the British soldiers. At least Martha is safely out of it.

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

Martha tried to follow Lizzie at a safe distance. If she got too close she was afraid the maid would see the light from the torch, yet if she wasn't close enough, she would easily get lost in the maze of tunnels. Why did I think this would be easy? Did I even think of the possible danger of being underground with limited avenues of escape? No! I had to let my curiosity win out.

She almost didn't notice Lizzie had stopped until it was too late. The poor girl was standing in the middle of the tunnel, hands over her face, sobbing. Martha rushed to her.

"Lizzie, it's all right. These tunnels can seem overwhelming but I think we can get out if we put our heads together."

Lizzie lowered her hands and turned to Martha who drew back from her cold, expressionless face. Lizzie snatched Martha's wrist in a vice-like grip, forcing her to drop the torch. "You should not have followed."

"Lizzie, let go! You're hurting me!" She tried to pull away but the other girl was unnaturally strong.

Another figure stepped out of the shadows and Martha recognized him as a footman from the White House. How many servants have been taken over?

"Bring her," he ordered in that same monotone. "They can always use more labour."

Lizzie pulled a struggling Martha down the tunnel after the footman. "This isn't funny!" She dug her heels in. "I demand you tell me where you're taking me!"

Lizzie ignored her and dragged her through the dark tunnels.

Martha knew she wouldn't be able to talk Lizzie out of it, especially with that footman around, so she tried to memorize the turns in order to make her way back--if she ever had the chance.

About five minutes later, they stopped and the footman pressed his hand to the wall and a door slid open. In the dim light, she could just make out the bodies crammed inside. Just before the door shut and the light was gone, she thought she saw Alan unconscious and propped against the wall. With her torch gone, she patted her pockets for another source of light and found her mobile. She flipped it open and used the pale glow to get her bearings before closing it. She then crept a few paces before repeating the process.

It wasn't long before she was kneeling next to Alan. "What's wrong with him?" she asked the uniformed officer next to him.

"I don't really know. We were talking and he just passed out mid-sentence. No, don't," he added as she reached for the strange collar around his neck. "It gives him a shock whenever anyone touches it."

Martha withdrew her hands. This is going to make things more difficult.

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

Alan came to slowly and heard voices murmuring beside him; one of them was female with a London accent. "Martha, when did you get here?"

"About fifteen minutes ago. How do you feel?"

"A little fuzzy-headed. How come I didn't-They drugged me, didn't they?"

"That would be my guess. Maj. Sullivan said you passed out mid-sentence."

"Wonderful. As if shocking me wasn't enough, they have to drug me too." He pulled himself up straighter. "Martha, why aren't you at the White-Executive Mansion?"

"You pack an outfit like this for me and expect me to stay inside?"

"'Course not. I just didn't expect you to join me in prison. What happened?"

"I was sneaking out through the kitchen to meet up with you and the Doctor when I saw Lizzie-one of the maids-disappear into the larder."

"She is a maid," put in Sullivan. "What is so strange about her going into the larder?"

"The fact that she didn't come out. I peeked inside and it was empty."

"So you decided to explore." Alan couldn't help but smile.

"Yeah. There's a whole maze of tunnels and I followed Lizzie. When I caught up with her, she turned on me. I think these aliens have taken control of her and at least one other servant. They brought me here."

"I don't understand," said Sullivan. "Why a servant? Why not someone of influence, of power?"

"Most don't even notice their servants until they're needed," Alan answered. "Because of that, they hear everything. Also, if the tunnel entrance is in the kitchen, they can guard it better."

"Then there might be more out there," said Martha. "There's no way that was the only entrance."

"If this labyrinth is as big as you say, perhaps there are entrances at compass points to allow access from any quadrant in the city."

"Good thinking, Sullivan."

"If I think of it as simple military strategy, I can manage. We just need to learn which entrance is closest."

And get this damn thing off my neck or we're not going anywhere."

"There has to be a way to get that off." Martha leaned forward like she was trying to peer at it in the practically nonexistent light. "I wish I had the Doctor's sonic screwdriver."

"I wish we had the Doctor. He'd be able to whip up something." He absently rubbed the back of his head. "Either that or talk them 'round."

"He always gives them a chance," Martha commented. "If they don't heed his warning..."

"He didn't seem that powerful to me," said Sullivan.

"The man is brilliant, Sullivan. Years and years of learning." Alan fought off a yawn. "Now let's plan our escape before they knock me out again."

"I talked with some of the others before you got here," Sullivan started. "These creatures seem very set in their procedures."

Alan woke with a groan. "Please tell me I didn't sleep through our opportunity."

"No," Martha said from close to his left. "But you did sleep through something else." He could tell from her tone she was smiling.

"What?" She leaned into his vision and he tried to back away when he realized what she was trying to do. "Are you mad?" He tensed for the shock that would wrack his body. Nothing happened. "What did you do? The collar's still there, I can feel it."

"I used the battery from my mobile to short it out."

"How did you know it would work?"

"I didn't. I just hoped it would."

Alan chuckled. "Oh yeah, you definitely travel with the Doctor." He slowly stood. "C'mon, we'd better get in position." He looked at her. "What are you doing with a mobile?"

"Habit."

They shuffled along in the dark, the other prisoners helping them. Alan knew the plan wasn't original or daring but felt it would work considering the amount of people they had. "Everyone knows what's happening?"

"Sullivan is spreading the word now," Martha informed him. "Even though he's a British officer, we thought the majority would be willing to listen to him more that a black woman. Do you think it'll work?"

"I hope so. I've a Plan B if you shorted this completely."

"And if I didn't?"

It might kill me. "We'll worry about that when the time comes."

A few moments later the door slid open and Alan got his first look at his captors. They were tall--hovering at seven-feet-and hulking with short snouts and small rounded ears reminding him of bears. He flattened himself against the wall as two of the three entered the room.

"Get up you lazy beasts!" they growled. "You should be thankful you have been chosen to serve the great Ursal Empire." One of them kicked a prisoner who took too long to stand.

The Ursals continued their way through the room and when they were far enough away from the door, the plan went into action. A group of the prisoners began a fight and it spread, escalating to the point where the third had to enter the cavern. At that moment, Alan and Martha began herding other prisoners out the door.

It wasn't long before the Ursals realized what was going on and headed back towards the door. Alan looked back at Sullivan, wishing him to hurry up. The man in question looked at him over the remaining prisoners and shook his head. Alan hesitated, wanting to run down there and get him out.

"Alan, c'mon! We've got to go now!" Martha grabbed his arm.

Pulled out of his stupor, Alan followed Martha. "Just keep going up. We're bound to reach the surface."

He could hear the others far ahead as their footsteps echoed down the tunnels. He soon felt an itching at his neck and somehow knew that Martha hadn't deactivated he whole collar. He kept himself moving knowing that if he stopped he'd collapse. If anything he had to get Martha back to the TARDIS and the Doctor.

He was dimly aware when the stone walls became cement and that he climbed steps. They came out into a corridor that led to a large semi-circular domed room with marble columns. He leaned against the wall as he fought a bout of dizziness. I am not about to let those grizzlies win now that we've gotten this far.

"Alan, are you all right? Why didn't you say something?"

Alan gripped her by the shoulders. "Hold on," he whispered, closing his eyes.

He thought of the TARDIS, held Martha tighter, and then followed the connection. He opened his eyes and smiled at his success. He then let the sedative take over and he collapsed in Martha's arms.

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

The Doctor stared open-mouthed at the new arrivals. He usually was the one to do the appearing so it was strange to see it happen. It was also unusual for anything to materialize within the TARDIS. He moved only when Alan passed out, rushing to help Martha. Between the two of them, they carried Alan to the couch in the small sitting area. "Are you okay?" he asked her.

"Yeah. The aliens singled Alan out because of the technology they found on him and used that collar."

"These aliens, did you see them?" he asked as he used the sonic screwdriver on the collar.

"They looked like bears and said something about the Great Ursal Empire." She looked at Alan. "Is he going to be okay?"

"I'll be able to tell better once the collar comes off." He adjusted the setting. "This was designed to give electric shocks if anyone tampered with it or if he got too far away. He's lucky that it shorted out."

"That was me."

"Hm?" He almost had it.

"I used the battery from my mobile to short it out."

He looked at her, amazed. "That was quite clever. Good thing you had your mobile."

"I always take it with me when I go out."

"I was hoping you'd stay out of this, I guess I should have known better."

"Well, Alan knew I wouldn't stay." She touched the back of her hand to his forehead checking for a fever. "He packed these for me in the trunk."

"Got it!" The collar snapped open and the Doctor widened it to reveal a row of small needles at regular intervals. "Ooh, this looks nasty." There were corresponding punctures along Alan's neck. "I'll need to test to see what they injected him with."

"I think it might be a sedative. He was dosed twice that I saw. Alan thought it was to prevent his escape. That must have activated once we left the cavern. He was fighting that off the whole time and never said anything."

"The man is true hero material." The Doctor lifted Alan's eyelids. "Pupil response is normal. He'll just need to sleep it off."

"Are you sure?"

"The Ursals are a brutish race but they don't kill unnecessarily. Alan was still considered an asset to be used. If they thought him to be troublesome, they wouldn't have bothered at all." The Doctor looked down at Alan's wrist as something Martha said sunk in. Singled out due to his technology. There was the proof. Alan's wrist was empty, only the red-lined impressions marking where his machine had been. The Doctor gave a whistle of appreciation
"What?" Martha asked.

"I thought Alan brought you here using his machine but it seems the Ursals took it. Alan," the Doctor tapped his head, "teleported you here. I knew he could, but to take you along as he was fighting off the drugs... The man never ceases to amaze."

"He transported the both of us here with his mind?" She looked down at the unconscious man. "What can we do for him?"

"Make him comfortable then leave him be." He grabbed his coat and headed for the door. "Come on."

"What about Alan? We can't just leave him."

"He'll be fine in the TARDIS."

Martha reluctantly joined him. "Where are we going?"

"The White House. I want to check out those tunnels."

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

Martha had made it to her room without too many people seeing her though she was sure that there would be talk of her being dressed as a man and returning when most ladies were abed. What had been strange was finding Lizzie setting the fire in the grate. A look of surprise passed across the maid's face before she regained her composure.

She had curtsied. "Is there anything I can help you with, miss?"

"No, thank you, Lizzie." Martha had just stood there and waited for Lizzie to leave. Once the girl had gone, she had stretched out on the bed for a quick nap.

Now she stood with the Doctor in Dolley's parlour as the Doctor tried to explain what was happening. The First Lady seemed to be taking it very well. At least she wasn't in hysterics. She listened patiently, letting the Doctor continue uninterrupted. She was quiet for a moment after the Doctor finished.

"These creatures from another world are kidnapping American citizens and British soldiers alike to use as beasts of burden?"

"They are so advanced that that is what we are to them," Martha said. "We were kept in a large dark underground cavern. I was only there a few hours but I was told that the others were fed just enough to keep them alive." She ignored Dolley's incredulous face and finished. "Alan and I escaped along with about twenty others with the help of a British officer, Maj. Sullivan."

"You are not a royal princess, are you?"

"No, ma'am. We never intended--" She stopped when Dolley held up her hand for silence.

"I understand. You were just looking for free room and board. Under normal circumstances I could have you arrested but these times are far from normal. As you are perhaps the only people who understand what is going on, I will lend you every assistance I can. Word of your deception will not go beyond these walls."

"Thank you, ma'am." Martha sighed with relief and she could see the Doctor had resumed his normal demeanour. If Dolley had withdrawn her support, it would have made rescuing the others and defeating the Ursals more difficult.

"In exchange for this leniency, I expect the three of you to leave once this matter is resolved. I trust the colonel will be well enough to travel?"

"Yes, ma'am, that shouldn't be a problem," the Doctor answered.

"Very well. Now that we know where we stand, what is your next move?"

"I'd like to inspect the larder with the least amount of people present. We don't need more people knowing about the tunnels than necessary."

"Give me time to call a staff meeting. That should make it easier for you to move about." She looked at the delicate ormolu clock resting on the mantle. "10:00?"

"10:00 will do nicely, ma'am." The Doctor looked to Martha. "A turn in the grounds, Your Highness?" he asked with a twinkle in his eyes.

When he put his arm out, Martha was reminded of her first trip in the TARDIS when they met Shakespeare. She placed her arm through his. "That would be lovely, Doctor."

As they left the room, Martha could have sworn she heard Dolley chuckle.

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

He was out in the woods supposedly looking for a dodo of all things and then he was being chased and attacked by a grizzly. Alan woke with a start. It took him a moment to realize he was in the TARDIS.

He sat up slowly and wondered how long he had been asleep. He guessed he was alone as the Doctor was not making use of the time by working at the console. Martha wasn't here because there was no way she'd let the Doctor out of her sight. At a guess, they had gone back to the White House to tell Dolley what was going on and to let the Doctor check out those tunnels.

"Well, as there seems to be nothing for me to do at the moment, I guess a shower and a change of clothes tops the agenda." He stood and walked slowly towards the interior door, giving the room time to stop spinning. "Just don't let me get lost."

He walked the corridors of the TARDIS and whenever he came to an intersection or a fork, the TARDIS gave him a mental nudge, keeping him from wandering off course. When he opened the door to the wardrobe room, he was gobsmacked. He had not been expecting a multi-level mall. "This many clothes and he hardly ever changes his outfit."

In his search for something simple and serviceable, Alan passed a number of familiar pieces including two velvet jackets-one red and one green-a well-worn black leather jacket, a marvellously hideous patchwork coat, and, wrapped around the staircase railing like a Christmas garland, was a long multi-coloured scarf. Apart from what he remembered, there were clothes from every era of Earth's history as well as other planets. "This would make the Wardrobe Department at the BBC jealous," he murmured as he fingered the skirt of a white Edwardian gown.

He decided on brown trousers, white button-up shirt and short brown jacket all in cotton. They weren't of the period but it would pass all but close scrutiny.

Now, with outfit chosen, Alan exited the wardrobe and followed the TARDIS's directions for the showers. The TARDIS led him somewhere a bit different. "This is not a shower," Alan informed her. "Actually, this is much better."

He put his new clothes on one of the chairs dotted along the edge before stripping down to his underwear and diving into the pool. The temperature was ideal and he immediately relaxed as he eased into a breaststroke. His mind wandered back over all that had happened recently and tried to find a way to stop the Ursals. I am not about to let them get away with enslaving his fellow humans who know nothing of what's going on. His stroke became a vigorous freestyle. I am not going to let Sullivan make such a sacrifice. He's supposed to die on the battlefield for King and Country, not because of a stupid bunch of aliens. Besides, the damn things have my machine.

He stopped and stood in the shallow end and let his breathing return to normal. He looked up when he heard the clapping. It was Martha.

"Watch out, Michael Phelps."

"I don't think he has anything to worry about." Alan pulled himself out of the pool.

"I-I-I guess you're, um, feeling better."

Alan towelled himself down. "Oh, yeah. The TARDIS knew exactly what I needed." He pretended to ignore her as he prepared to change into dry clothes.

"I'll, uh, just go tell the, uh, Doctor that you're, um, ok."

Alan made sure to keep a straight face at her flustered reaction. He turned his back as he felt a smile twitching. She had to be blushing by now. "Tell him I'll be up shortly." He heard her footsteps quickly rush down the hall. "It's a good thing for her that I thought such a thing might happen."

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

Upon entering the TARDIS, the Doctor had gone straight to the console to cross-reference what he had learned in the tunnels.

"Doctor," Martha had said, concerned, "Alan's gone."

"Nothing to worry about. Alan's no stranger to the TARDIS."

"I'm going to see if he's all right."

He had waved in her general direction. The main thing he had noticed about the tunnels was that they were too smooth to have been carved out by human hands. That could mean the Ursals used this location before. Odds are the tunnel system extends under most of Washington. He pulled up a contemporary map of the city and highlighted the White House. Now, everything the Ursals do revolves around symbols, which means, if I can find the right one, I'll have an image of the tunnels. He watched the monitor as a myriad of symbols appeared onscreen one after the other. Going by what Martha had told him, some he dismissed for being too simple and others as being too complex.

He stretched his neck and looked up to see a rather dazed and bewildered Martha. "Did you see Alan, then?"

"Hmm? What? Oh, yeah. He said he'd join us in a bit." She came to stand beside him. "What are you looking at?"

"Ursal symbols. They're a pretty superstitious lot and wouldn't undertake something like this without blessing it."

"And you think they carved the tunnels to resemble this symbol."

"But only having the one entry point is making for tough going. One more would narrow things down considerably."

"The Capitol." Alan entered combing his damp hair with his fingers. "Martha and I came out through the Capitol."

"Showers are good for helping you relax, brings forth memories."

"I was in the pool, actually. I was just finishing when Martha found me."

"Oh." The Doctor noticed how Martha was avoiding looking at Alan. "Oh."

"So, if you add the Capitol, how much will that narrow things down?" Martha asked, changing the subject none too subtly.

"It should." He highlighted the Capitol and could immediately see that both landmarks were on a line running from northwest to southeast. "Well, that narrowed our choices by about 40%."

"Sullivan said something about having entrances at compass points."

"Right," Martha agreed. "It would give access from different parts of the city."

"Sensible military thinking." The Doctor looked at Alan. "I'm surprised you didn't come up with that."

"I admit I wasn't at my best." He fingered his throat.

One of the symbols flashed on the screen as it met all requirements. "Yes! Oh, that was so obvious a choice I should have realized right away."

"Some clarification for those of us not versed in alien bear?" Martha asked.

"It's a combination of the symbol for stealth and the one for mastery over lesser beings."

"I can't believe they actually have a symbol for that," commented Alan. "So what now?"

"Now the Doctor confronts the Ursals, giving them a chance to leave peacefully while we rescue the others." Martha smiled.

"What she said," the Doctor agreed with a wide smile.

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

Martha found it eerie walking through a mostly deserted city. She had forgotten this was a city under siege. Chasing after aliens kind of put things in perspective. Walking to the Capitol also made her realize just how far Alan had teleported. She gave him a sideways glance, wondering what else he was capable of.

"How are we going to cover the other exits?" Alan asked. "The militia has evacuated so we can't ask Jack and his friends for help this time 'round."

They walked onto Constitution Avenue and straight into a British patrol. Of course. She raised her hands.

"Identify yourselves," demanded the captain.

"I'm the Doctor, this is Martha, and that is Col. Alan Kelly."

Martha wondered why the Doctor stressed Alan's rank. The soldiers slowly lowered their rifles. What's going on?

"Are you the same Alan Kelly who served at Salamanca?"

"Yes."

"An honour to meet you, sir," the captain said as he saluted.

Alan returned the salute and Martha could see the officer he truly was.

"If I may ask, sir, what are you doing here?" He didn't say it but Martha had a feeling he was thinking and with such people.

"A special mission. There is a third party operating in this city taking both British and Americans alike. Maj. Sullivan's reconnaissance patrol was taken just last night."

Perfect. State one of their own was taken.

"We will help you scour this city," declared the sergeant who sounded Welsh.

"We know where they are hiding but you can help us by covering the avenues of escape." Alan looked to the Doctor who listed the spots that needed watching. "Remember, some of these captives are civilian so only fire warning shots unless challenged."

"How will we know the kidnappers?"

"Believe me, you'll know," Martha muttered.

"A description wouldn't do them justice, captain," Alan answered. "Let's just say they stand apart."

"Very well, sir." The captain divided his men into four sections and assigned them a location. The captain and one other soldier stayed with them as they headed to the Capitol.

Martha fell into step with the Doctor. "How did you know that would happen?"

"Something one of Sullivan's men said. I hoped it wasn't an exaggeration." He watched as Alan walked in sync with the two soldiers. "It must've been something amazing."

"Oh, it was." She could feel the Doctor's eyes on her as she kept walking. "Sullivan told me all about it."

"Why, Martha Jones." He leaned closer. "Tell me everything."

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

Alan had Capt. Nelson and Private Marris wait outside.

"Just the one door? How do we know this is the one they'll use?" asked Nelson.

"It's the closest." He made to follow the Doctor and Martha but the two soldiers wouldn't let him leave without a salute. Once inside, he caught the Time Lord and his companion smiling. "Don't. Just don't."

Since Martha had been more aware of their surroundings, she gave the directions to the entrance of the tunnels as the Doctor took the lead. Once the floor evened out, they knew they had reached their destination.

The Doctor started across a junction and immediately pulled back. "Sentries."

"I'll lure them away," Alan decided.

"And what will you do against them? You're unarmed."

Alan patted his jacket pocket. "I found your secret stash, Doctor."

"You know I can't--" he started, getting all Time-Lordy.

"Stun gun. Give me some credit."

"Good luck," Martha whispered.

Alan crossed the junction, making sure the two sentries saw him. He slowed so they could follow and led them away from the Doctor and Martha. He spotted another junction, veered off, and pressed himself against the wall. When the guards lumbered by, he used the stun gun. He then dragged them into the junction, nearly putting out his back as he did so.

Recalling Martha's directions, Alan made his way to the cavern where the captives were kept. Two more guards hit the floor. I could get used to this. He waved his hand in front of the sensor and the door slid open. "Is this a private party or can anyone crash?"

Blinking at the light, the rescued headed for the door as fast as their tired and worn bodies would allow. "Thank you," they said as they passed him on the way out.

"Stay quiet and keep heading up. There will be soldiers waiting for you."

The line of people moved quietly and quickly out the door and, as the room thinned, he could see Sullivan at the opposite side helping those who were worse off and couldn't move well on their own.

"What are you doing here?" Sullivan asked.

"You didn't think I'd leave, did you? The plan was that whoever got out would come back for the others." Alan looked about and saw that it was mainly soldiers left. "C'mon, all the civilians are taken care of. I don't know how much longer we have until the Ursals catch on."

There was a shout from the doorway as four Ursals blocked the escape. "You were saying?"

Alan turned, brought up the stun gun, and fired at the two advancing creatures. Nothing happened. "Of course you die when I need you." He threw the useless weapon down.

Sullivan stood beside him. "We have no weapons against them so what now?"

"We try to bluff them?"

"You are a recognized troubling presence," one of the Ursal soldiers declared.

"But you need all the labourers you can get."

"The two of you are a disturbing influence. We are no longer required to keep you alive."

"Not even for questioning?" Alan tried to stall until he could come up with something better. "I might know some stuff you don't."

The soldier hesitated just a bit. "We have been ordered to eliminate all threats."

"How are we a threat?" asked Sullivan. "We have no weapons."

"They're just soldiers," Alan answered. "They can't make their own decisions. They--"

The second Ursal backhanded Alan, sending him flying into the cavern wall.

Alan heard his left shoulder pop and knew his arm would be useless. "This is going to be tougher than I thought," he murmured. Under his right hand he felt a decent-sized rock. Gripping it tight, he pressed against the wall and worked his way up. He chuckled. "I had heard Ursals were merely thugs. Now I know it to be true."

"Who here would know of us?" The first Ursal came and stood before Alan, looking him in the face. "We have ensured that none above have seen us."

Alan smirked. "As I said before, I know things. Like I know your current position is a little rocky." He brought up his right hand and smashed the rock against the Ursal's head.

The Ursal staggered back but didn't fall. He gripped Alan's wrist causing him to drop the rock. "Take them all to Control," he growled to the others. "My superiors enjoy taking puzzles apart."

"Let's just hope they're not the kind to throw them out if they can't put it back together," Alan joked as he was tugged along after the others.

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

After Alan had drawn off the sentries, the Doctor approached the doors. "Refuse to be awed of intimidated," he told Martha. "Act like you've see it all before and they won't know what to do."

He waved his hand in front of the sensor panel and the door slid open with a hiss. The array of machines inside was quite impressive-for a less tech-savvy race like the Ursals. Not that he was going to tell them that. "Hello!" he greeted brightly.

The three Ursals in the room turned almost as one. "Intruder in Control," declared the one on the left.

"Oh, you're good," the Doctor said. "Very observant. What was your first clue?" He wandered about the room, slipping on his glasses to peer at the machinery. "I haven't seen some of this stuff in ages! It should be in a museum."

The Ursal in the centre wore gold braid on his epaulettes, clearly denoting him as the leader. "This is the latest in Ursal technology!" he defended.

The Doctor scoffed. "And decades behind everyone else."

"Doctor," Martha warned as the soldiers went for their weapons.

"Don't worry. If they shoot at me, they risk hitting the machines." He looked back at Golden Braid. "How long have you been coming here? This tunnel system is too extensive and well-established for a one-time deal." He crossed the room and fiddled with another piece of equipment. "Now to see just where you're sending your slaves."

"They are not slaves," Gold Braid bristled. "They are a labour force."

"A labour force you keep locked in the dark and feed barely enough to keep them alive," said Martha. "Sounds like they're slaves to me."

"Ah, the Perseus Cluster. But why would you need to send a 'labour force' there?" He tried to remember what could possibly be of interest in the area. "Grwl Kitur. I can't believe you're after that old chestnut." He turned to Martha. "It's the Ursal equivalent of the Holy Grail. Everyone wants to find it despite no concrete proof of its existence."

"New evidence has come to light--"

"If you had such fabulous evidence, there would be no need to use humans as slaves."

"They are not slaves!" insisted the Ursal on the right.

The outer door opened and a group of American and British soldiers in ragged uniforms entered escorted by three Ursal soldiers. Alan and Sullivan were last followed by a fourth. "The rest of the slaves escaped, Colonel," the last Ursal told Gold Braid.

The Doctor raised an eyebrow at the use of the word. Gold Braid wouldn't even look in his direction.

"Did I give you enough time, Doctor?" Alan asked, cradling his arm.

"Enough. You okay?"

"Just dislocated. I'm all right for now."

"Here, let me see that." Even in the midst of a standoff, Martha was still a med student.

The Doctor turned his attention back to the matter at hand. "Now, as for you, I want you to pack up and leave this planet. And if I hear you've come back, I won't be so lenient."

"Just who are you to make demands of us?"

"Oh, they really shouldn't have asked that," said Martha, fixing Alan's shoulder.

"Me? I'm not one you want to mess with. I've faced down Daleks, Cybermen and Sontarans so your little party here holds no challenge whatsoever. I'd make up your mind quickly. You have, oh, about fifteen minutes." At his words, one of the machines began to beep. He motioned behind his back for the others to move closer to the door.

"What have you done?" Gold Braid demanded as he pushed the Doctor away to gain access to the machines. "Well, stop it!" he ordered his soldiers.

The Ursals guarding the prisoners moved in to assist and the Doctor hustled them out of the room. "I think we'd better hurry."

"What's going to happen in fifteen minutes?" asked Alan as they all headed up towards the surface.

"That equipment will explode sending a massive fireball through these tunnels."

"But what of the city, of everyone above us?" asked Sullivan. "Surely an explosion of that size will kill everyone in the city."

"Ah, but I timed the portal to the Perseus Cluster to open at the same time so the blast will be very minimal."

"All that they will experience is tremors and fires which can be attributed to the war."

"Convenient."

"You like using your enemies own equipment against them, don't you?" asked Martha.

"They're kind enough to provide it, so why not?"

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

They came out into the evening air and ran as far from the building as they could before the lower story was engulfed in flame. The Americans melted away into the streets before they could be taken by the British. "That's gratitude," Martha muttered.

"We did have an unspoken truce of sorts," Sullivan said. "Now with that behind us, things will revert to normal."

"We'd better get on our way," said Alan. "I don't think we'd be able to talk our way out of this."

"You sound like you've done this before." Martha said to him.

"A few times, yeah." He smiled.

"You'd better go back with Marris and his men," the Doctor told Sullivan. "If I were you, I'd keep your mouths shut," he added, including Marris. "No one would believe you."

"They won't be coming back, will they?" Sullivan asked.

"I don't think so. This wasn't an official mission and I doubt they'll want to try again after such a failure."

Sullivan pumped the Doctor's hand. "Thank you for all you've done, Doctor. It scares me to learn that such things exist, but knowing you're there, fighting them, makes it easier. Martha, you are a remarkable woman. I knew there was something different about you the moment you arrived in the cavern." Sullivan turned to Alan. "Is this the reason you saved my life? To let me see what else is out there in the universe?"

"Nah," said Alan. "You were a comrade-in-arms and that's why I did it. Didn't you owe me money at the time?"

Sullivan chuckled. "No, I paid you off the day before." He shook Alan's hand. "I hope we see each other again, Kelly."

"Chances are good, what with the spread of English colonies and the way I travel."

"Farewell then." The British soldiers left to merge with the other troops that had entered the city.

"Should we go check on Dolley and the others?" asked Martha as they wended their way back to the TARDIS. "Make sure they got out okay? Will Lizzie and the others the Ursals had control over be all right?"

"Oh, they'll be fine. Once the Ursals machines went up, those under their control would have returned to normal. As for Dolley, she went back to rescue a portrait of George Washington."

"Really? Who would risk their life for a painting?"

"Obviously Dolley would."

Alan snickered.

Martha tried to keep a straight face. "Are you done with the jokes about Dolley?"

"Pardon?" The Doctor acted innocent.

Alan didn't even bother trying to hide his laugh.

"Out of your system now?"

"Yes, yes, I believe so."

Martha was the first to see the TARDIS. "Now that's a sight for sore eyes." She used her key to open the door.

"I know this is a silly question," Alan started, "but have you got room for one more? My transport was destroyed in the explosion."

"Oh," the Doctor patted his pockets. "You mean this?" He pulled out the machine in question and let it dangle from his fingers.

"Oh, thank God." Alan took the machine. "I do not want to think of what they'd do if I came back without it." He strapped it to his wrist.

"Probably wonder how you got back in the first place," Martha said with a smile.

"You're still welcome to come along for a ride. You need to rest that thing. You don't want it to conk out on you."

"I want you to know it only messed up once." He entered the TARDIS past a whistling Doctor. "I am not going to sing!" his voice echoed back.

"Hmph. Most artists will sing at the drop of a hat," the Doctor said. "What's with the singing?" Martha wanted to know.

"Alan was in a rock band in the 60s," the Doctor informed her. "Just one song!" he asked of Alan as he went inside.

"No!"

Martha entered the TARDIS with a smile. This was going to be an interesting trip.

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