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Of The Essence (5/?)

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: 1547/14372
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.

Alan listened as Shannon shared some Irish fairy tales. It was beginning to feel like a day in the park and he knew it was time for it to end. He felt the rumble of the heavy vehicles before he heard them. Once the other captives heard the sound, he saw the dear return to their faces. “Remember,” he cautioned, “we have to stay calm. Any outbursts of fear or anger will only stir things up and there could be casualties. Oh, and they don’t know who I am.” He opened the connection on the communicator. “How’re you guys doin’ down there? We’ve company.”

“We’ve found a lovely present to bring to the party, but there’s been a slight delay.”

Alan interpreted that to mean they had the mineral but were stuck. “You got caught in a cave-in?” He saw Leiman quickly approaching. “What do I tell the host?”

“The truth. He has to delay as best he can. We’ll keep you updated.”

Leiman looked at Alan. “What’s wrong?”

“They have the bellarium but there was a cave-in. You have to delay the trade. You can’t tell them about the bellarium or they’ll just take it for themselves.”

“What do I tell them?”

Alan felt an anger and sympathy for Leiman—leaning to wards the side of anger. He looked at the gathered prisoners and his eyes settled on Aaron. He could say the boy hurt his leg, but they’d just make somebody carry him. “Say the boy is sick and you’re waiting on medicine. Tell them that a sick child won’t be of any use.” Alan melted back into the group.

A lean man strode over to them. He was dressed well over his toned frame. A larger, muscular man took up position behind him. “Leiman, what have you got for me this time?”

Alan opened communication again. “I gave Leiman some pointers about what to say. I hope he doesn’t cave. Any progress for you?”

“We’ve got some working on trying to clear the cave-in and some are heading through the shafts we were going to use before,” answered Ryan.

“It shouldn’t be much longer,” added the Doctor. “Do what you can to keep those people safe.”

“Okay.” He listened as Leiman asked for more time. “This guy is not happy with Leiman talking back. Now Leiman’s pointing at the boy like I advised. Oh, crap!”

Alan rushed forward but was too late to stop Leiman from standing in front of Aaron as the trader fired. Both the villagers and the prisoners were stunned. Emma held Aaron close.

“Now, is there anyone else who has to say something regarding this transaction?” the trader asked the villagers.

They looked amongst themselves, lost without their leader. They also didn’t know the reason for the delay. That left him with only one option.

“I do,” Alan stated as he moved forward.

The man looked him up and down. “Oh, really?” he scoffed.

“Alan, we’re almost through,” came the Doctor’s voice. “Don’t--”

Alan pulled the device from his ear. “I’ve got a better deal for you. Take me instead of them.” His eyes never waivered.

[Alan, what are you thinking?]

[It keeps everyone safe and you guys can get me later.]

“And why would I take you instead of twelve?”

“The right people would pay more for me than everyone here combined.”

“Someone’s a little full of himself.”

His men laughed.

“Perhaps my name might clarify things: Col. Alan Kelly.”


Donna looked out onto space from the large observation window. She still found it overwhelming that she was here. She hoped the feeling would never go away.

Maddie stood beside her. “We’re only a few hours out. Col. Durant is making sure we’re going as fast as we can.”

“I just fell so responsible. They sent me to get help and if we’re too late…”

“There was no way you could have known that they would have taken so long to reach a decision.”

“It doesn’t ease the pressure any. I know the Doctor can fix just about anything, but I don’t want any unnecessary deaths, you know?”

“When it comes to civilians, every death is unnecessary.”

“Just civilians?” Donna fumed. “I know I’m not army, but I would think even in a battle you’d want to keep the body count low.”

“Of course, but soldiers know there is every chance they’re going to die. Yes, every death in war hurts, but civilians are the ones that are truly unnecessary.”

Donna could see her point even though she didn’t completely agree. It wouldn’t do to alienate her only friend at the moment over something so trivial. At least they both agreed on the civilians.

Durant found them not long after. “There’s been some chatter concerning Karifa. A variety of ships are gathering.”

“What kind of ships?” Donna asked.

“The disreputable kind,” the colonel replied.

“Like they’re gathering for an auction,” added Maddie.

“What can we do?”

“The plan is to approach and surround. We have nothing on them at the moment so we give them the option to leave.”

“Let them leave? They’re buying people!”

“Donna, in order to catch them, we have to witness the transaction.”

“Is there any way to do that? Get someone down on the surface? I have his machine.”

“Which would put you right back into the hands of the people you escaped from,” countered Durant. “That is not an option.”

Instead of arguing the point, Donna tried to think of other options from many years of watching American police dramas. “What about probable cause?” They looked at her questioningly. “I don’t know what it’s called now, but when you pull someone over for, say, speeding and then you find they’re doing something else illegal.”

“Though I’m not sure of the terms, I get what you’re saying.” Maddie tried to explain it to Durant. “If we ask the ships to provide a reason for gathering and they run, we have the right to follow. If we happen to find prisoners onboard, we have our proof.”

“I’ll need to check the legalities of the move, but it sounds good to me. Maddie, come up to the bridge. We could use your assistance.”

“And what about me? You’re not going to shunt me off when it was my idea.” Donna was ready to get up into his face if that’s what it took.

Durant seemed ready to argue but decided against it. “Fine, but you stay where I tell you.”

Donna grinned as she followed to the bridge.


The moment he had lost contact with Alan, he knew things had gone horribly wrong. Shannon wasn’t speaking to them either. The moment there was space enough, the Doctor wiggled through followed by Ryan. They ran to the field to find the prisoners still there and Leiman bleeding on the ground. Two men were kneeling beside him trying to stem the flow from his leg. They walked over to Shannon. “What happened?”

She pulled herself away from a mother and son. “The head man—I never heard his name—was going to shoot Aaron over there and Leiman stepped in front and took the bullet.”

“And Alan stood up to the guy and demanded to be taken instead,” stated Ryan. “Heroic and stupid. He knew we were on the way.”

“I think that’s why he did,” said the Doctor. “Well, that and the fact that I told him to do what he could to keep them safe.”

“So when do we go after them?”

“See if you can reach him and check how he is. I’d like to make sure everyone here is good before we leave. Shannon, why don’t you find out where everyone is from so we can get them home?”

“Already done,” she replied. “Alan got everyone telling stories to keep them relaxed.”

“Okay then.” He made his way to where Leiman lay. “Is he stabilized enough to be moved?”

“We have a stretcher on the way,” one of the men answered. “We’ll remove the bullet once he’s inside.”

“You’ll need to find someone to take over until Leiman’s well enough,” said Shannon. “You have a lot of rebuilding ahead of you.”

Leiman groaned and muttered something. The Doctor bent down. “We found it,” he told the man. “Shadowbrook can become very prosperous.”

“Alan?” he whispered.

“He’s fine,” the Doctor assured him. “Everyone is safe. You just let them take care of you.”

The stretcher arrived and Leiman was transferred onto it and taken back to the town. In unspoken agreement, everyone followed. The former prisoners mingled with the citizens, united in being spared.

Ryan caught up to the Doctor and Shannon. “Alan’s fine. He’s blindfolded so he can’t give details.”

“They probably won’t do anything to him so he’ll fetch a better price. He knew that as well.”

“Should we try to contact Jacsmira?” questioned Shannon.

The Doctor looked up at the sky. “I don’t think that’s necessary. They’re probably approaching orbit right about now.”

“Can we go after the slavers now?”

The Doctor watched as the townsfolk treated the former captives like real guests, sharing what they had. “I think everyone here has what they need for the time being.” He veered off to the municipal building. “Time to get your machines.”

Chapter 6


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