The Estate of Doom|
The Time Lord known as the Doctor and his companion, Doctor Grace Holloway, strolled along a grassy ridge on a planet many light years from either's home. The air was clean, the temperature moderate. Gravity was a little lighter than on both Earth and Gallifrey, lending an extra bounce to their steps. An observer would have said that they appeared to be quite enjoying themselves.
"Very nice, for a 'random' destination." Grace commented, smiling, as she looked at the countryside around her. "I'll take it."
The Doctor grinned. "I didn't see a 'for sale' sign, but perhaps something can be arranged..."
"Will it fit in the TARDIS?"
She was joking, but did an abrupt double-take as the Doctor rubbed his chin with a hand, looking thoughtful.
"I wonder..." he muttered.
Grace knew that the dimensionally transcendent interior of her Time Lord friend's ship could be quite vast, that it was in fact what the Doctor called a 'pocket dimension'. Still, it wasn't large enough to materialize around a planet, was it? She felt a momentary pang of uneasiness. "I was just kidding!"
He glanced at her, sidelong. "Oh," he said neutrally. "I was looking forward to calculating the necessary internal reconfiguration..."
"Uh-huh," she muttered, still not certain if he was pulling her leg or not. Then he grinned widely, and she rolled her eyes.
"Wonderful -- engineer humor. You couldn't really do that," she muttered mostly to herself, reassured.
The Doctor merely glanced at her, on his face an expression of innocence.
The ridge gradually swept down to the valley floor. Reaching the bottom, they continued along, in no particular hurry.
That was when the Doctor suddenly caught a flash of silver, out of the corner of one eye. He turned quickly -- something had darted in among the trees.
He touched Grace's arm gently, not wanting to alarm her. "Perhaps we'd best try this way," he suggested, casually, inclining his head in the direction they'd come from. When she turned, a little impatiently, he looked at her meaningfully, and her eyes widened in response. "Back in the trees," he whispered, "I saw something. I think it's just watching us, but we'd best head back."
"Okaay," she replied, gingerly.
They walked, quickly but without panic, away from the copse of trees. Grace could feel something staring at her, she swore she could.
They'd gotten about half-way across the ridge they'd traversed earlier when they heard a high-pitched humming noise. Startled, they both whirled, to see a small silver globe hurtling through the air towards them.
Grace gasped in involuntary surprise. Creatures and machines tended to leap out at them from time to time. The problem was that you had very little time to figure out whether they were friend or foe before they were upon you.
And so it was with this one. A hum, a silver streak, and it was there, dancing and circling around them.
Grace flinched, anticipating an attack of some kind. When nothing happened immediately, she opened her eyes. A silver globe with an in-set lens was circling them. Finally it stopped, and regarded them head-on, hovering in mid-air before them.
"Well, hello," the Doctor muttered, peering at the unblinking 'eye' of the machine. "What have we here?" He reached out a hand slowly towards the hoverer, only for it to dart just out of reach. "Ah," he commented, smiling slightly. "Shy, are we?"
"Someone is watching us," Grace remarked cautiously, tilting her head. "Well, as long as that's all they do..."
They gamely resumed their journey. The 'eye' followed them.
Grace tensed slightly as the sphere came up beside her and began to pace her. "Hey," she said softly, reaching a hand towards it as the Doctor had earlier. She had no better luck than he had; the globe flitted far enough away to avoid her touch, but continued to regard her.
"It looks like you've made a new friend," the Doctor suggested slyly.
She shot him a look. "Well, since it's following me home, can I keep it? I promise I'll take good care of it."
"That's what you say now, but I'll be the one who'll end up always having to change the power cells."
Grace hesitated, as the globe circled them again. "Darn it," she muttered, evidently uneasy.
The Doctor, several paces ahead, turned. "Come on, Grace," he began, cheerfully. He stopped.
Grace was glaring at the eye, which was hovering right in front of her, blocking her way.
"Excuse me," she hissed. She stepped forward, but the globe refused to budge. She reached out a hand as if to bat it away, and it twitched out of her reach, then immediately returned. She determinedly strode forward, forcing the eye to move, lest she bump into it. It swerved out of her way, and she gave the Doctor a smug smile as she marched forward.
The next instant, though, she yelped in surprise, and stumbled forward.
"It zapped me!" she snapped, indignantly, whirling around to glare at the offending globe, which was again homing in on her.
The Doctor stepped forward, concerned.
She grimaced. "No, it's all right. It wasn't that strong. But if I get my hands on that thing..."
The eye, unimpressed by her threat, swung around, between her and the Doctor. It hovered for a few seconds, regarding the resentful figure in front of it, then moved forward.
This time, she flinched instinctively back a few paces, before realizing what it was doing.
"It's trying to 'herd' me!" she exclaimed. "That's it; I've had it. Get-out-of-my-way," she told it, teeth and fists clenched.
The Doctor reached into a pocket, removed his sonic screwdriver, and rapidly made several adjustments. This situation had gone on for long enough; the sphere was clearly hostile. Extending the instrument, he activated it.
The globe emitted a high-pitched squeal and dropped to the ground. It landed with a thud, rolled a few feet, and lay still, inactivated.
Grace stared down at her erstwhile attacker with satisfaction, then looked up, catching the Doctor's eye. "Thank you," she said, with immense dignity.
"No charge," he told her, with a smile. "Shall we go?"
"Absolutely," she replied, and they set off once again.
About a mile away, a pair of silver spheres that were patrolling under the tree canopy of a patch of woodland suddenly sped off, heading in the direction of the ridged valley.
The Doctor and Grace moved briskly along, heading for the safety of the TARDIS.
"I suppose we're trespassing again," Grace commented.
"I suppose so," the Doctor muttered, absently. He didn't, as a rule, pay much attention to such minor details. "Though I would have expected a watch-sphere to warn us off, first, not follow and then attack..."
"They'd make great sheep dogs," Grace opined dryly, surreptitiously rubbing at the spot where she'd been 'stung'.
"Hmm? Oh, yes; hover-drones are used for that, on some planets."
Grace considered. "Perhaps it was malfunctioning."
"Perhaps. Well, if that's what we're seeing here, then the sooner we're back to the TARDIS, the better."
Slightly spooked by these ominous words, Grace glanced back the way they had come, and gaped at the sight of two distant specks, more watch-spheres, streaking towards them. The Doctor turned to see what had caught her attention. His eyebrows rose in dismay.
"Never mind 'oh-oh,' Grace advised him, uneasily. "Just get ready to do whatever-it-was you did to the other one with your sonic screwdriver."
"That's if they let me. If they haven't learned from what happened to the other sphere."
"Perhaps we should keep going," she exclaimed. "Maybe we'll cross the border of their territory, or something, and they'll leave us alone."
Translation: Should we run like hell?
"Maybe," he conceded. "But I'd prefer not to turn my back on them."
Then there was no more time to debate; the spheres had arrived. Grace and the Doctor found themselves instinctively standing back-to-back, staring back at the two lensed globes circling them.
Maybe they don't know what happened to the other watch globe, Grace thought, hopefully. Perhaps this is just a coincidence.
What happened next confirmed her worst fears. One moment, a sphere was hovering in front of each of them; the next, the one that had been watching her swung around to join its partner in confronting the Doctor. Even as she began to turn, the two spheres attacked.
The Doctor yelped in surprise as the globes each shot a beam at him. Whatever it was, it had to be stronger than what she'd been zapped with; even as she completed her turn, his knees began to buckle.
She was just in time to catch him -- barely. Hoisting him under his arms, she staggered backwards a few steps, stumbled, and collapsed, bearing the Doctor to the ground with her. She found herself half-sitting, half-sprawled, the Doctor inadvertently reclining on top of her, staring, barely conscious, at the spheres floating above him. He was mumbling something; Grace wasn't sure what. Sounded like...a mathematical equation.
Then the spheres attacked again.
They were going to kill him!
"Stop it!" she screamed, trying to haul the Doctor out of their line of fire and failing miserably, as she could barely move. Grace lunged forward the best she could, plunging a hand into one of the Doctor's jacket pockets, the one she'd seen him drop his sonic screwdriver into earlier. Her hand found and pulled out the screwdriver. She desperately aimed it at the two globes, and pushed what she hoped was the correct button.
One of the spheres squealed, sputtered, and dropped to the ground, 'dead'. Even as she was moving to target the second sphere, though, it lanced a bolt at her hand, and she yelped in shock, dropping her impromptu weapon. Staring at her hand in dismay, she blinked as she realized that it wasn't actually injured.
"Hey!" she yelled, this time in anger, as the remaining globe took aim at the fallen sonic screwdriver, reducing it to a scattered pile of components.
Grace flinched. The Doctor was not going to like this at all.
That is, if he survived the attack. The remaining sphere single-mindedly lined up to resume its assault on the Time Lord.
"No! Stop it -- you've done enough already!" she snarled, wriggling free from underneath her friend and confronting the silver globe, fists clenched. She expected to be fired upon next, but it seemed to have no interest in attacking her. It instead moved to one side, then the other, trying to get a clear shot at the Doctor. She moved with it, blocking the way.
They both waited, Grace glaring at her antagonist; the globe, momentarily still, as if considering its options.
She took a moment to glance back at her Time Lord companion. He appeared to still be breathing. In fact, there he was, beginning to mumble again.
Of course, there was no way of knowing what damage he might have incurred from the attack. Grace stared balefully at the sphere, which was still hovering. It seemed to have decided to break off its attack. After another glare in it's direction, Grace decided to chance bending down to check on the Doctor.
He murmured something. She leaned closer to hear, while simultaneously trying to keep one eye on the sphere.
"Doctor...it's me, Grace," she told him, helpfully. "Are you all right?"
"Ace...?" he muttered, blinking at her. "Why am I down here? Have you been playing with nitro-nine again?" His tone was accusatory.
"No, it's Grace. Grace," she told him, perturbed. "Don't tell me you're going amnesiac again."
"Amnesiac? Me? Of course not." He promptly sat up and frowned. "Where's my umbrella?"
Grace closed her eyes momentarily. They were being guarded by a floating attack eye, and her alien friend was going loopy again.
"Okay, Doctor. You do know you're the Doctor, right?"
He glared at her. "Of course."
"Great. Fine." She turned slightly and gestured at the silver lensed sphere that hovered in the air above them. "Now this globe, here, doesn't seem to like us very much. It zapped you. Do you remember that?"
"There were two, as I seem to recall. What happened to the other one?"
"I deactivated it with the sonic screwdriver, like you did earlier to the first one we saw," she told him.
His eyes followed the direction in which she was pointing, falling upon the deactivated watch-sphere. Then he noticed the remains of what had been his sonic screwdriver.
Grace winced as his voice went up several octaves. "My sonic screwdriver! Every time I get a new sonic screwdriver, something happens to it! What did you do to it?!" he exclaimed.
"Not me," she told him crisply. She pointed at the floating sphere. "Blame that."
He blinked. "Oh." He turned a glare upon the proper object of his indignation. "You owe me a new sonic screwdriver!" he told it, sternly.
The globe just hovered there, unimpressed.
"Oh, bother," he said, folding his arms petulantly. Then he realized that he was still sitting on the ground, and clambered to his feet, Grace helping him.
They stood, eyeing the hovering sphere. "Well, what next?" Grace inquired, uncertainly.
"Why, we leave, of course! I know when I'm not wanted!" he declared in righteous indignation, still glaring at the globe.
"Ah...Doctor," she said, gingerly, "we were trying to do that, when they attacked us. It's as if they don't want to let us get away."
"They did?" he asked, surprised, swinging his head around to stare at her. "Oh, yes, of course -- they did!" He looked back to the globe. "How rude!"
Grace closed her eyes again for a moment and wearily rubbed the bridge of her nose. "Well, now that your sonic screwdriver is kaput, is there anything else you could use to discourage our over-zealous friend, here?" she prompted.
His head whipping around again in that disconcerting manner he sometimes had, he stared at her as if she had just babbled in some incomprehensible language. She looked back gingerly, eyebrows raised, wondering if she should translate her clear, logical sentence into babbelese.
Grace pointed, indicating the sphere, wondering what the person on the other end of the link could possibly be thinking at this point, if there was actually someone watching them. Whoever it was, they were probably laughing so hard that they had forgotten to tell the globe to attack them again.
She waved a hand in front of her friend's face. "Hello...Doctor? Earth calling, Doctor..."
He blinked, and smiled absently. "Sorry. Just thinking." He reached into a pocket, and removed a large white handkerchief. Grace noticed that it had a strange sigil embroidered on one corner.
He wiped his forehead, then shuffled around in front of Grace and several steps closer to the globe, as he looked intently at her forehead.
"What?" she asked him.
"There's something there..." He moved forward, eyes narrowed in concentration, the handkerchief ready in one hand...
...and abruptly spun about, flinging the fabric over the sphere which was now floating practically at his shoulder.
The large square of white cotton was large enough so that it hung down around the globe. Smiling in satisfaction, the Doctor quickly grasped the loose hanging ends of the fabric, turning the whole affair into a floating 'bag'. The wrapped sphere finally made a belated attempt to escape, darting blindly forward. "Whoa!" the Doctor exclaimed, as his grip on the gathered handkerchief ends halted the globe. "Got you!"
He leaned forward, glancing smugly at Grace, where she stood, smiling and shaking her head at his antics. "Always go for the low-tech solution whenever possible," he told her, insinuatingly, before straightening up again to regard his wriggling catch.
A sudden flare of light pulsed on one side of the 'bag', as the globe started to burn a hole through the fabric.
They both flinched. "Aagh!" Grace yelped, jumping back. "Do something!" she exclaimed. "Don't let it get away--it'll attack us again!"
The Doctor's face fell. "There's no help for it, then -- we'll have to 'put it down'," he decided, sadly. He reached forward to grasp the struggling sphere firmly, and crouched down, bearing it to the ground with him. He unwrapped the handkerchief and stuffed it back into his pocket with one hand, while keeping a firm grip on the globe with the other, taking care, of course, to keep the laser port pointed away from them. He looked almost ludicrously mournful, Grace reflected, as she stared at the strange tableau.
"Don't just stand there -- get a rock," he said, impatiently.
"Oh. Right." She hunted around for a few moments, before spotting a stone of suitable size.
"Here." She crouched down next to him, pro-offering the rock. He sighed, and, gritting his teeth, took the stone and raised it high.
Craaack! A large dent appeared on the top of the globe. Grace winced involuntarily as he brought down the rock repeatedly.
When the top was thoroughly caved in and dented, he stopped to examine the sphere more closely. It looked 'dead'; it certainly wasn't trying to fly. He smashed it several more times, and crushed the camera lens, for good measure.
Finally he sat back, and sighed again.
"Hey," Grace said. "It was just a machine. Besides, it tried to hurt you, maybe kill you."
He gave her a narrow look. "I know that. But it's not fun destroying something, even 'just a machine'. Besides, some of the most interesting conversations I've had have been with machine intelligences." He dropped the rock and got up, brushing himself off. "Some people would even label my TARDIS a 'machine', though that's of course a vast oversimplification."
"Well," Grace commented, "this was definitely a case of us versus it." She looked up at her friend. "Here, give me that handkerchief. I'll put the sonic screwdriver pieces in it. Maybe you can put it back together again."
He smiled wanly as he handed her the now-singed square of fabric. "Thank you."
She piled the scattered pieces in the handkerchief and standing up, returned it to its proper owner.
"Right," he said briskly, carefully folding up the cloth and tucking it away. Let's go..."
"...before something else happens," Grace finished.
This time, their journey was peaceful, and they were able to return to the TARDIS without further interruptions.
It wasn't until after they'd reached the Time Ship and were preparing to open the door that an ominous sound came from behind the police box.
"All right, you two -- don't move!" a man's voice snarled.
The Doctor and Grace froze. Despite the severity of the words, they couldn't help thinking that the speaker sounded familiar...
The next instant, the Doctor's face lit up with recognition, and he grinned broadly. "We wouldn't dream of it," the Time Lord called out cheerfully. "Though I do hope you haven't come back for your 60,000 mazumas. I'm a bit skint at the moment."
Grace gawped. So that's who it was! "I don't believe it -- Jadi!" she exclaimed. "Jadi Morok!"
The rugged face of bounty hunter Jadi Morok appeared around the side of the TARDIS, grinning hugely. "Got you!" he said.
The next moment, his former compatriots descended upon him. He suffered Grace's hug amiably enough, patting her absent-mindedly on the back a few times. He next glanced over at his smiling former 'employer'. The Doctor tilted his head, indicating the faint but still noticeable scar on the bounty hunter's cheek, and raised an inquiring eyebrow at him. Jadi grinned a bit ruefully.
"Long story," he said. "Tell you when we have time."
Jadi frowned. "You're also here because of the Tendez Challenge, aren't you?"
"Ah...this challenge -- it wouldn't involve killer watch globes by any chance, would it?" Grace asked him.
He looked at her quickly, an expression composed of equal parts surprise and calculation on his face. "You've encountered the globes already?"
"You could say that," the Doctor admitted, slightly bemused.
"Well, we had to disable them. They were quite unreasonable. Kept attacking us."
Jadi let out a low whistle. "If we pool our talents, we'll be unstoppable."
Grace looked from Jadi to the Doctor and back. For a change, her Time Lord friend didn't appear to be any more enlightened than she was. "Fine," she told him. "But first, it would be really nice if you could tell us exactly what in the heck is going on around here."
Jadi looked crestfallen. "You're kidding, right?"
Two heads shook in unison.
"You're out here, disabling watch-robots, and you didn't even know that you were in the middle of Sanj Tendez's Challenge Field?"
They both nodded.
"Ha!" The exclamation escaped Jadi in a huff of exhalation, as he plunked himself down on a rock in front of the TARDIS. "That's pretty funny. I mean, trapped on the 'Estate of Doom', likely to be attacked at any time by the latest in cybernetic security devices - and you didn't even know it. It's pretty ironic." He squinted up at them.
"Then again, maybe not," he decided a moment later, recalling the adventure he'd shared with them last time they'd met.
"Sounds wonderful," Grace commented, brightly. "I for one would just love to wait around here until the next wave of berserk killer robots arrives."
The Doctor glanced nonchalantly around. "Sorry to disappoint you, Grace," he told her, reasonably. "But it's high time for a spot of tea. Mr. Morok, would you care to join us?" The Doctor fished out the TARDIS key and unlocked the doors as he delivered the invitation.
The bounty hunter watched, bemused, as the Doctor and Grace disappeared into the blue wooden shed that was barely large enough for the two of them.
A moment later, the Doctor stuck his head out again to see what was keeping him. "Come on, Jadi. Tea for three, in the TARDIS."
Jadi got up and strode to the doorway. "So this is that 'ship' of yours you were trying to get back to, last time?" he said, in a tone of extreme skepticism. "But it's not a ship, and it's much too sm-" He stepped through the open doorway.
-all-" The bounty hunter stopped, gaping at the vast, gothic room around him. His eyes swept around the Console Room, taking it all in. He blinked.
Across the room, Grace smirked and waved.
Giving a lop-sided grin as he continued down the few steps just inside the doorway, Jadi scratched gingerly at the back of his neck.
"Ah...now I see why you wanted to get it back so badly."
It was a curious thing, Grace Holloway observed, as the Doctor set the tray containing the tea service on the small table in front of them, that a man who came from a planet millions of light years away from Earth should observe the niceties of the traditional British Tea better than she, a native of Earth. At times, her alien friend the Doctor seemed...well, more British than a native Briton. Not that she was an expert on that type of thing, of course, being American herself.
Well, she mused, as he deftly spread a generous repast before her and Jadi, I suppose he has had centuries to get it right.
Looking to her left, she repressed an involuntary smile at the incongruous sight of the burly bounty hunter in black spacer's garb as he sat, gingerly perched on a Chippendale sofa, carefully clutching a delicate china cup in his hands. Jadi seemed to be handling it all pretty well, though. He appeared to have fallen in love with the scones; the pile was disappearing at an alarming rate. She reached forward to snag one for herself before they were all gone.
To her right, the Doctor did likewise, with a grin. Slathering his catch liberally with jam, he turned, bright-eyed with curiosity, to regard Jadi.
"So, Mr. Morok. Tell us about this 'Estate of Doom' that we inadvertently find ourselves upon," he prompted the bounty hunter, between munches.
Jadi glanced over at him, popped the last of a scone in his mouth, and tossed back yet another cup of tea, washing it down. "I still find it hard to believe that you didn't know what was going on here," he grumbled, peering at the Time Lord suspiciously.
The Doctor looked back at him with innocent equanimity. Grace also gave the Doctor a speculative glance, then smirked. "Oh, I don't know," she said casually. "The Doctor has a...knack for ending up in strange situations. All purely by accident, of course." She leaned forward, towards Jadi. "My own theory is that he's a 'trouble-magnet'," she stage-whispered.
The Doctor considered his two companions, as if trying to decide whether to be indignant or not. Finally, he settled on Aloof, and reached contentedly forward for another scone. "You'd be surprised at how large a part coincidence plays in the affairs of the Universe," he informed them, with just the proper touch of superiority. Grace looked at him fondly, as Jadi slanted him a somewhat skeptical look.
"Right. Sure," the bounty hunter agreed. "Well, anyway, right now, we're sitting in the middle of the estate of Sanj Tendez. 'Estate of Doom' is what the Media nick-named it."
"And he is...?" Grace inquired.
"Only the wealthiest man on this continent!" Jadi informed them.
"Well, that would explain the killer robots," she decided. "He doesn't want any trespassers."
"Oh, but he does," Jadi corrected her. "Anyone who makes it through the grounds of the estate, to the main house, will win a million Trizmas."
The Doctor's eyebrows lifted. "Mmm...quite a prize. I gather, then, that you are making a go of it? And that no one who has attempted it before has ever succeeded?"
"Right. And right."
He leaned forward. "Tell me, what is known about this 'Sanj Tendez'?"
"Not much. He seldom leaves his mansion." Jadi leaned forward and re-filled his cup for the umpteenth time. "No one's even sure what he looks like; he doesn't give interviews. Five years ago, he sent out a press release, for system-wide distribution, describing his Challenge. Of course, the word spread much farther than that. I recently heard about it, and decided to give it a try."
Give it a try. Grace shook her head sadly. Personally, she wasn't into deadly gauntlets, such as the one she and the Doctor had been involved in when they'd first met Morok. But apparently, some people had a taste for that sort of thing. She looked at the bounty hunter where he sat, now working on polishing off the plate of cucumber sandwiches. A million Trizmas were evidently a small fortune, but were they worth losing your life over?
"How did Tendez make his fortune?"
"Oh, the usual -- combination of inheritance and business interests."
"Hmmm." The Doctor sat, thinking. "So...it's a fairly straight-forward contract, in the end. You get to the house, you get the money."
The Doctor didn't seem satisfied by the information he'd received; he frowned, and tapped his fingers on the arms of his chair. "Something about this situation doesn't feel right," he muttered. "What are the rules, the limitations on how the goal is to be reached?"
Jadi considered. "Well...none, really," he replied. The Challenge says that you have to reach the mansion. It doesn't say how. But everyone knows that Tendez's estate has defenses that make even the military green with envy. You yourselves saw some of them, today."
"Yes, we did..." the Doctor replied. "But the spheres behaved oddly, not at all how I'd have expected security drones following a standard security protocol to act. They were much more aggressive, yet inconsistent..."
He sat, musing for a few long moments.
"Well," the Doctor said, rising from his chair. "There's no reason we couldn't just drop over to his house right now, is there?" He looked down expectantly at his two companions.
Morok looked back at him, eyebrows raised in speculation. "Oh. All right. We can split the money..."
"Oh, I have no interest in the Trizmas, Jadi. But I would like to meet this mysterious Mr. Tendez."
Grace leaned back and clasped her hands around her knees. When the Doctor turned his gaze expectantly to her, she looked back with a fair amount of equanimity. "If you really want to. Let's just skip the killer robots."
"Oh, I wouldn't worry about those! Minor details!" he said confidently, flapping a hand. He suppressed a smile as she rolled her eyes.
He strode happily over to the deceptively primitive-looking wooden console. "The trick," he said, as if to himself, "is to get the correct coordinates for such a short hop." He hovered over the controls, considering. First, he directed his attention to a small scanner. Grace and Jadi appeared at his side. "That scanner is for viewing the local countryside," he told then, pointing it out. "Now," he said, operating several controls, "We shall see where this mansion of yours is. It should show up as an infra-red source -- ah! There."
A large dot appeared. The Doctor mumbled some numbers to himself. "About two miles to the west," he told them, reaching forward for a different set of levers. "We'll go 'now', unless you'd like to arrive before you started out on this expedition," he suggested merrily, glancing aside at the bounty hunter.
Jadi blinked, looking slightly confused. "Erm...no, now's fine."
"As you wish." The Doctor reached forward and activated the dematerialization sequence.
Jadi stared up at the central column, a transparent cylinder glowing with artron energy. Clear rods within meshed, then retreated, as a dull, grinding roar echoed around the Console Room. Jadi glanced around questioningly, as the sound faded away a moment later and the Time Rotor became still again.
"We're there," the Doctor informed him, strolling around to look at the outside monitor.
"It only took a few seconds..."
The Doctor shrugged. "It was practically right next door."
The outside monitor merely showed a hallway, empty of furniture but opulent, with rich tapestries on the walls.
Jadi stared suspiciously at the screen. Grace, realizing that he probably had expected something rather different, nudged him in the ribs. "What did you expect? For us to blast off, or something?"
He turned to look at her, a strange expression on his face. "Well..."
"Oh, we've got something much better than *that*, the Doctor told him, clapping him good-naturedly on the back. "Why settle for a mere ship, when you can have your own personal time-traveling dimension?"
Jadi's eyebrows lifted. "Hunh." He scratched his head, and readjusted his
gunbelt, trying not to show how out of his element he felt. Grace finally took
pity on him, and offered him an arm. "Come on," she suggested, smiling.
"Let's go meet this rich eccentric you told us about."