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Of the Essence (4/?)

Title: Of The Essence(aka The Temp, The Spaceman and the Flyboy)
Fandom: Doctor Who
Series: Doctor Who/TOC Files
Characters: Ten, Donna, OC
Word Count: 1298/14372
Rating: G (I believe)
Summary: The Doctor and Donna arrive on a ship taking refugees from a war zone and are naturally taken for stowaways. An old friend of the Doctor's then asks for their help to rescue members of his team on a hostile planet.
Notes: This story has been sitting on my computer for ages! I actually started it after seeing Donna's reaction to Jack in "Journey's End". It sat around unfinished until last year when my niece and nephew helped me past my block and worked on a plot on the way to a spring training game. It's un-beta'd so feel free to point out typos or any ohter errors you find. Disclaimer The Doctor, Donna and the TARDIS belong to the BBC. Alan Kelly is mine.



Donna found herself standing in a small room, more like a closet. She cautiously opened the door and stepped out. The hall was busy with people, both civilian and Military. At least she wouldn’t stand out. She just had to figure out where she was and how to get to Maddie Chase. Well, I won’t get anywhere just standing here. She fell into step with the throng and watched for signs to tell her where she was.

After a few wrong turns, Donna ended up in the canteen. She managed to get a warm cup of weak tea before scanning the room. There, by the window. She wove her way through the tables and stopped in front of the young officer. “I don’t know if you remember me,” she started.

Lt. Chase looked up at her. “Donna, right?” She motioned for Donna to sit. “I thought you were with Col. Kelly.”

“I was.” Donna showed Maddie her wrist. “We found Shannon and Ryan who were being held prisoner in an abandoned mine. Alan sent me here to get help.” Donna smiled. “Mentioned you by name.”

“Well, that’s flattering, but I really don’t know what I can do. You know they wouldn’t give him the support.”

“From what I gather, Alan is like royalty around here. I’d think your higher-ups would go out of their way to get him back.”

“I agree with you. Believe me, practically everyone on this base would agree with you. The thing is, it wasn’t a sanctioned mission. Unless we can give the Brass a reason, we’re stuck.”

“What about--”

“If we’re going to plot, it’s best we do it where we won’t be overheard.”

Donna followed Maddie outside along a few winding pavements until they reached a high hedge. This better not be a maze. I do not do mazes. She trailed Maddie through an opening in the hedge and found herself in a small but beautiful garden. Donna didn’t recognize any of the flowers but that didn’t make it any less amazing. “This is just… Wow.”

Maddie smiled. “Hardly anyone comes here. Sometimes I just have to get away from the concrete and steel, you know?”

“I can see why. It’s wonderful.”

Both women sat on a wooden bench by a small waterfall. “What can you tell me about where you were?” asked Maddie. “Do you know the name of the planet?”

She thought for a moment, replaying bits of conversations. “Alan said Ryan and Shannon were on Karifa.”

“That planet’s in the heart of the disputed territory. Is there anything you can think of to narrow it down?”

Donna tried to remember. “There was a field that had been in the middle of a battle. The village we went to looked near-derelict, but the people were well fed.”

“You think they trade people for supplies?”

“They must do.” Donna did not want to contemplate what would happen. “If we don’t get there in time, the Doctor, Alan, Shannon and Ryan will be traded into slavery. I don’t think that’s something your Alliance will condone.”

“I don’t think so either.” Maddie stood with renewed energy. “Let’s go tell the Commandant. If there were a known insurgence or something, that would make the Alliance need to take action. We just have to get them motivated.”

Donna stood next to her. “I’m very good at motivating.”

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

Alan sat on the ground and looked at his fellow prisoners. Some had their faces tilted to the sun, experiencing it for the first time in days, possibly weeks. They had been fed, he could see that. Of course, Leiman would want them to be healthy enough to fetch a good price, but not too healthy that they’d fight back.

Now they all looked to him for leadership. He didn’t think it was because they knew who he was, but more likely because he was the latest arrival and set about trying to escape. Right now, all he could do was keep them from panicking while the Doctor did his thing.

Shannon sat down next to him. “Everyone’s relatively calm now that I’ve assured them about the Doctor. Do you really think he can do it?”

“He always seems to pull it off somehow.” He pressed the communicator. “How’s it going down there?”

“Slow but sure,” came the Doctor’s voice.

“We’d go a bit faster if the Doctor would get his hands dirty,” Ryan panted.

“This is delicate work I’m doing!”

“So you’ve been saying.”

“Stop bickering, you two!” Shannon ordered. “Remember the people waiting, depending on you finding that mineral.”

After a moment, the Doctor spoke. “Right. Thank you for keeping us on track, Shannon.”

“We’ll call you with progress reports,” added Ryan.

Alan turned off the device and looked at Shannon. “You handled them very well. Did you do a lot of babysitting growing up?”

“Some, but I’ve gotten recent practice with you and Ryan.”

“We do not act like little kids.” Alan was indignant.

“Oh, yes, you do. I keep expecting one of you to stick your tongue out.”

“In that case, I shall endeavour to act more adult in those situations.”

“I’ll hold you to it.”

They shared a smile before the seriousness of their situation closed in once again. They didn’t know how long they had to wait and he didn’t want the group acting like strangers. They needed to bond together, learn each other’s names and where they were from.

Alan walked over to the others and sat down by a mother and her son. “I thought this would be a good time to get to know each other. I know it may sound corny, but we don’t know how long we’ll be here so we may as well pass the time productively.” He looked at the little boy and held out his hand. “Hi, I’m Alan.”

The boy looked at his mother, who nodded. “Aaron,” he said shyly as his hand was engulfed by Alan’s.

“Pleasure to meet you Aaron.”

“I’m Emma,” said the mother. “Are you Alan Kelly?”

“Yes, I am.”

At that, Alan and Shannon were mobbed by people introducing themselves. After, everyone was more open to sharing stories. The only story left unsaid was that of the Doctor’s progress.

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

The Doctor wiped the sweat from his brow with the back of a grimy hand. It was impossible at this point not to get dirty. They had made progress into a new tunnel and the Doctor was positive they were following the right vein. The men from the village looked at him with annoyance, but Ryan was the only one who said anything.

“So, have you got that glorified torch of yours working yet?”

“Ryan, it is not a torch. It’s a sonic screwdriver,” he stated clearly and evenly though he knew very well the other was putting him on.

“So far, I’ve only seen a light. It can’t screw anything, sonic or otherwise.”

He looked at Ryan in the blue light of the sonic, “I think I’ve found the right frequency.”

The Doctor held his breath as he pressed the button to activate the sonic. The dirt and rock fell from the wall in in fine powder like it was supposed to. He released his breath and smiled. Before long, the ore was exposed, its facets glittering in the light. Ryan handed him a small hammer and chisel and the Doctor removed a sample. “Okay, now we get to the top and shop Leiman what you have. This is prime stuff.”

They backed out of the tunnel and went through the cavern to the exit.

Ryan stopped. “Doctor, you know when I said that sonic thing of yours hadn’t screwed anything? I lied.”

Ahead of them, the Doctor could see a massive cave-in blocking their way out.

Chapter 5

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