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Of The Essence (6/?)

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 sat in the back of the transport with at least three guards. It was hard to gauge when they didn’t speak much. He sat back as if he was going for a drive in the country. He knew they wouldn’t hurt him—aside from a few bruises—because damaged goods brought a lower price.

What little they said, he couldn’t use. He didn’t bother trying to remove the blindfold or even try to see through the guards’ eyes because it wouldn’t make a difference. He’d wait until they reached their destination before sending any information back to the others.

[Alan, you okay?]

[Yeah, I’m fine. How’s Leiman?]

[Alive. They’re moving him back into town to operate.]

[Good. We’re still en route so I’ll let you know the details later.]

[Can’t you give me anything?]

[Blindfolded. I’ll contact you later.]

Close to fifteen minutes later, the truck stopped and Alan was pulled to his feet and practically pushed out. He maintained his balance as was taken by both arms and escorted across dusty ground into an enclosed space, most likely a small outbuilding judging by the sound.

He blinked few times after the blindfold was pulled off. He was kept standing. Sitting across from him at a makeshift desk was an older man—perhaps in his 50s—who was just starting to show a little girth. He seemed more the type to be found in a cubicle or middle management job, not running a slave trade ring.

“So, you’re the famous Alan Kelly. Not as big as the stories would have us believe. I’ll not question the good fortune that brought you to Shadowbrook. When Rafe notified me of the change, I spread the word to my buyers.” He took a long drink of water and Alan swallowed reflexively. “The boys will show you to your accommodations.”

The blindfold was replaced and Alan was taken across the compound to another building and locked in a room on the first floor. He lay back on the bunk and waited.

*******************************************8

Donna stood off to the side on the bridge. She could see everything happening and was still out of the way. Durant was captaining the ship, but could override if necessary. She was thankful that he invited her. It saved everyone the aggro. She still would have liked to have gone down there or even have someone infiltrate the auction, but the risk of being caught was too high. Now they were just waiting for the auction to go down.

“Sir, we’ve got a new wave of chatter from Karifa,” said the communications officer. “There’s been a change in the auction. No other details.”

Donna knew what happened. “He knows he has Alan and his friends. That’s all it can be. And he can’t escape because I have this.” She held up her wrist. “Can we change the plan now?”

“Donna, we don’t know they have the colonel,” said Maddie. If we go down there and he’s not involved, the man could go free.”

“But he’s trading in human lives!” Donna took a deep breath. “Even if it’s not Alan, there still could be people from Alliance worlds. That should be important enough.” Yes, her mouth sometimes got her in trouble, but she couldn’t let it go by.

Durant was getting his temper under control—Donna knew the signs well—when there was a “pop” of displaced air and Shannon was standing on the bridge.

“Donna, you made it.”

“I made it? What about you?” She wrapped the other woman in a hug. “I can’t get them to do anything.” Donna realized she sounded like she was working with kids.

“Yeah, well, that’s bureaucracy. I do have news to change that. They do have Alan. He traded himself for the other prisoners.”

The Doctor was right, that is true hero material.

“This gives you the intel you need to make the raid.”

“Everything but a location,” muttered Donna.

“We can track the signal back,” said Maddie, taking over the comms. “Shouldn’t be a problem.”

“Right, I’ve got to get back down there,” said Shannon. She looked at Donna. “Coming?”

Donna smiled. “I’ve been trying to get down there for hours.” She took hold of Shannon’s arm and they left.

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

Even though the Doctor said they would go to Alan as soon as they had their machines, he still wanted to wait a little bit to make sure Leiman’s surgery was progressing without any complications. Shannon took the opportunity to home in on Alan’s machine and alert the Alliance to the newest development, and to bring Donna back. Ryan was burning off excess energy by walking the town and helping fix what he could. The Doctor had always seen the belligerent, snarky Ryan so that came as a surprise.

“Doctor!”

He turned at her voice. “Donna!”

She came over and hugged him tightly. “I knew you’d get out of it. But why did you let Alan get taken?”

“’Let him’? I wasn’t even there.”

“You don’t ‘let’ Alan do anything,” Shannon said in his defense. “He does what he wants.”

The Doctor pointed emphatically at Shannon. “Yes! Exactly!”

Ryan returned. “How far did you get?” he asked Donna.

“Mobilized a few ships,” she said, modestly bragging. The Doctor just imagined the restraint she was showling, not patting herself on the back.

“They’re planning to raid the area where Alan’s being held,” said Shannon.

Raids never ended well as there was panic on both sides. If he could talk to the slavers, he might be able to convince them to end this peacefully.

“Doctor?”

“Hm, what?” He looked at Donna.

“You just came up with a plan, didn’t you?”

“Not a plan. Well, not a conventional down-to-the-last-detail plan, no.”

“I don’t think you’ve ever had one of those,” commented Ryan. “You even told me you don’t hold much with plans.”

The Doctor tried to remember his conversations with Ryan. There weren’t that many. It was during his last regeneration and Ryan nearly had a heart attack at the news. “When you have a strict plan, you get thrown off when something goes wrong. A general idea is more flexible.”

“So what’s the general idea?” asked Shannon.

“We go to where Alan is being held and I talk the slavers into giving up quietly.”

Ryan scoffed. “I really don’t think that’ll work.”

“I’ve seen him talk down ____,” declared Donna. “Some local trader isn’t going to be a problem.”

“We’ll find out when we get there.” The Doctor looked at Ryan and Shannon. “Bring us to a safe spot within the compound. If they think we can get in at any time, we can use that against them.”

“Let them think that the Alliance could send people in at any moment,” Ryan mused. “I like that.”

“I had a feeling you would.”

Ryan and Shannon programmed their machines and the Doctor and Donna took hold and the four of them left Shadowbrook.

Chapter 7

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