Categories > Anime/Manga > From Eroica With Love > The Trip of a Lifetime

Part 1

by Sindeniirelle 0 Reviews

Klaus and Dorian are abducted by an evil alien mastermind who has set out on a vendetta against the universe. And that's just the start of their problems. Doctor Who crossover.

Category: From Eroica With Love - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Action/Adventure, Crossover, Romance, Sci-fi - Characters: Dorian, Klaus - Warnings: [!] - Published: 2006/10/20 - Updated: 2006/10/20 - 12119 words

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The Trip of a Lifetime

A /From Eroica with Love/Doctor Who /cross-over

By Sindeniirelle



Author's Notes, Warnings & Disclaimers:

This story features the Ninth Doctor and companion Rose Tyler, as well as a new K-9 unit. In the /Doctor Who /canon, it takes place in the 2005 series after the episode "Father's Day" but before "The Empty Child." Also, I randomly made up a new K-9 unit and stuck him with the Ninth Doctor and Miss Tyler, so I suppose that shuffles this fic over into the AU category. It's also AU for other Doctor Who-related reasons, which Whovians will understand once they see who the villain is.

/From Eroica with Love /is property of Yasuko Aoike, Princess Comics, and DC Comics. /Doctor Who /is property of the BBC. No profit was made from this story.

*this used to be a multi-chapter sprawling, overblown, hideously written monster titled "All Other Destinations" which I've come to hate. Hence the rather dramatic revision.











The Louvre was a medieval fortress, the palace of the kings of France, and a museum for two centuries. It was beautiful. And it was big/. /Big /wasn't even a big enough word to encompass the building that took up forty hectares of land in the heart of Paris, with 60 000 square miles of exhibition rooms, housing more than six thousand /European paintings. Most thieves would be daunted by the sheer massiveness of the building.

Of course, Eroica was hardly 'most thieves.'

Also, he knew his way around.

Hm. I wonder if the museum curators have realized that Vermeer is a fake yet? /He thought, slipping past a large oil painting with a boyish grin. /I guess not. And the original is /so much brighter./

Eroica tossed a wave of golden curls over his shoulder. Lately, his team had been pulling numerous heists of a similar nature. They'd paid a visit to almost a dozen museums and art galleries across the globe in the past six months, including the British Museum in London (but he wasn't sure that one counted, since he'd been relieving them of their most valuable pieces since he was a teenager, and he was confidant he could get passed their security blindfolded and with his hands tied behind his back.)

There almost wasn't any challenge left in it for him, he thought, wondering what a certain straight-laced and terribly handsome German intelligence officer was doing. He hadn't attempted to cause mischief with any-or, that is to say, to /help out with any/-covert NATO operations in such a long time! And strangely their paths, which fate had at one time seen fit to cross ever two or three months, had remained aggravatingly separate.

Well, at least the major ought to be pleased. Why, just think, he hasn't had to curse me for interfering with his missions, yell at me for being a 'perverted degenerate' or punch me on account of my irresistible charm for over six months now...the poor dear.

But there would be time for that later, the thief mused, pausing outside the hallways where Leonardo Da Vinci's Saint Jean-Baptist, /was on display. He'd been waiting for the painting to go on display again before stealing it, not because it would be difficult for a professional art thief of /his calibre to liberate it from the storage safes, but because it would have more of an immediate public impact this way. Heee publicity! I can't wait to see the News report on this afterwards!

With that cheery thought, he turned his attention solely on the painting. It was gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous. The way the light seemed to shine so brilliantly off the young man's rich, auburn curls, and his smooth skin looked so soft and warm, his smile so handsome and enticing...

"Oh my, darling."

Eroica wanted that painting. Eroica was going to get that painting.

"Let's see...pressure sensitive alarms should have been taken out with the main power by Bonham and the boys five minutes ago...so..." He took the heavy ornate frame firmly in his grip, smiling at the beautiful young man that met his gaze.

"And you love it don't you, darling?" he grinned. "The hours of attention, their lustful, envious eyes on you all day. I understand perfectly, and I hate to ruin it for you, really I do. But," he lowered his voice to a husky whisper and leaned closer to the famous canvas, "come home with me, darling, and I'll make you forget all the others."


*


Major Eberbach, the very same German NATO officer of our previous character's fantasies, was feeling quite put off, although he could not tell why. For once there was no degenerate thief snooping about to harass him. It was strangely annoying not to have anyone around to blame his exasperation on. Not that he would ever/, ever /actually /want /that perverted lunatic to intrude on his missions.

"God-fucking-damn-it," he cursed, tossing his cigarette into the mud. He'd been stuck doing too much paperwork lately, that was the problem. He was "Iron Klaus," NATO's best, not some bloody filing clerk! He ran a hand harshly through his long dark hair, glaring at the sky. He wanted to shoot something. Badly.

When he reached his office in Bonn he wasted no time in summoning agents A, B, G and Z. The young men huddled in his office, nervous expressions of terror flitting across their faces. It seemed no one was in a hurry to get exiled to Alaska. A small smirk twitched at the corner of his mouth. I /really /want to shoot something.

"What are the Soviets up to now? Agent A, I want a progress report. Now!"

"Th-there's nothing much, Major. But the chief gave this to me just before you got here. He said it was sent down from the-the higher ups," A told him, procuring a thin folder with shaking hands. His expression said all to clearly that the major would not like what he was about to see.

The major snatched the folder from him, almost tearing it in two, and scanned the contents quickly. A moment later, green eyes flashed menacingly and Klaus Heinz von dem Eberbach gripped the corners of his desk until his knuckles whitened. The agents cowered.

"WHAT THE HELL IS THIS? Is this some sort of sick joke? Do those idiot higher-ups think that they can relegate THE Iron Klaus to this sort of-of-farce?! This is even more idiotic than the case with that wimpy boy and his alleged ESP!" Another cigarette had miraculously found it's way into the major's mouth and didn't fall out even despite all the ranting. "I mean an alien? An /alien/? If this is a joke I am going to kill whoever's responsible!" the major snarled in disgust. "I don't believe this..."

Agent Z hazarded a glance at the photographs gathered by one of NATO's other intelligence units. They showed an average-enough looking man in a dark leather jacket, with short black hair and perhaps slightly large ears. He certainly didn't/ look/ very remarkable. "You mean is this an...illegal alien, then, Sir? Is that really a job for NATO Intelligence? Unless he's a spy for the other side, of course, I mean..."

Major Eberbach sighed tiredly. "The file states that this man...supposedly called only by the codename 'the Doctor' may be a..." Major Eberbach growled low in his throat, grinding his cigarette mercilessly into a pile of smouldering ash. "An /extraterrestrial/." The term dripped from his tongue like acid. "Of all the damn nonsense...first teenage boys with ESP, now this..."

"Um...a...a space /alien, then, sir? That science fiction stuff /is all the rage right now..." Agent B ventured nervously.

"This is pure idiocy," the major growled. "This sort of farce has no business in a military operation. We're here waiting on pins and needles for the other side to drop a nuclear bomb on our heads and the higher ups are worried about /aliens/?" Klaus scowled. "Orders are orders, but this is ridiculous!"


*

"Oh, those diamonds!" Dorian Red Gloria, the Earl of Gloria, had been strolling down one of London's streets innocently enough, when his eyes fell upon the display in the window of a very prestigious jewellery store. "Arlington, you nasty shopkeepers, how dare you put something so tempting in the window like that! That's practically /begging /to have it stolen!"

The Earl of Gloria may have lived in a castle in North Downs, owned countless priceless paintings and statues, and been fabulously wealthy, but his accountant would never /have approved of him actually /spending money /to purchase that diamond necklace. /And why should he? the earl chuckled to himself, especially when it's so easy just to take it for free!

Only a few hours later, Eroica, self titled Prince of Thieves, slipped into the closed jewellery shop, wearing a sleek black catsuit, his mane of golden curls tied back loosely. /It's been too long since I did something spontaneous like this, on my own, without planning everything out with Bonham and Jones and the others.../he thought, practically purring as the necklace dangled from his fingertips. /Ooh I could wear these the next time I dress up for my favourite hot-tempered homophobic German! ...but he'd never appreciate them anyways. Besides, why wait? /he smiled, fastening the necklace so that the diamonds shone like stars against his black clothing.

The night was going quite marvellously indeed, until exiting Arlington's he felt a heavy cold object rest against the back of his head. "You! You just have to slither out of every dank, deplorable shadow, don't you? No matter where in the world I am! You damn thief."

"Why Major, darling, how wonderful to finally see you again!" Dorian crooned, ignoring the magnum pointed at his head. "It must/ /be destiny at work, don't you think?"

"Hmph. We'll see what you think of 'destiny' once you're explaining to Scotland Yard why you've got that stolen necklace hanging around your neck,"

"That's cold! Anyways, it's /you /who is interfering with my work, this time, Major," the thief said.

"So the tables are turned this time! You can see what a nuisance you are!"

"But I'm quite charmed..."

"Even with a gun pointed at your head you can say such perverted things?" the major sighed, clearly aggravated, but the weapon was lowered. "Unfortunately I don't have time to deal with you right now."

"Ooh, are you on a mission?"

"That information is none of your concern!" the major snapped.

"It is a mission!" he exclaimed, turning around. Even in the dark shadows of the alleyway, Iron Klaus was strikingly handsome, the trenchcoat and dark glasses only made him more mysterious and Eroica could hardly resist teasing him. "I can help, you know. I am of course, at your service," he made a show of eyeing the German. "For anything."

"God! You degenerate! I really should shoot you, and do a favour for the world!" the major shouted.

"But you won't, will you?" Eroica teased, leaning forwards as though to kiss him.

"Don't push your luck!" Klaus growled, grabbing him by the collar and shaking him roughly before shoving him out of the way. "Consider yourself lucky I don't have time to deal with your idiocy at the moment-"

"Uh, Major-"

"I said shut up, you damn-"

"I feel...heavy..."

"What in God's name are you-" Major Eberbach turned back to the alleyway to see Eroica collapse. He was already raising his gun, when a sharp pain exploded in the back of his skull, and white fire blazed in front of his eyes, before everything went black.


*

Fuck, fuck, fuck. /That was the one coherent thought that formed in Major Eberbach's mind as he regained consciousness, bound tightly to a chair in a small room with glaring white walls and harsh light. An interrogation room? It looked...odd. Clean and barren, but there was no denying the danger of their situation, captured by unknown enemies-he hadn't even gotten a look at their assailants. /Fuck. I'm Iron Klaus, NATO's best agent, I'm not supposed to make these kind of stupid mistakes. /It was around that time that he registered Eroica, tied to a chair beside him, limp, his dishevelled blonde hair falling over his bruised face. /Fuck.

And this was the SECOND time they'd been taken in this way, too! It was utterly unacceptable. The major's eyes closed in a silent grimace, and when he opened them again he saw Eroica shifting slightly in his chair, his blue eyes wide with confusion and fright. "What? Where-" the thief saw him and blinked, "Major, what happened?"

"I don't know," he answered.

"Is it the KGB? Oh God..."

"It's your own fault for always sticking your nose in where it doesn't belong," he said suddenly. He wasn't even sure why he said it, other than to curb some of the guilt that was already building in his gut.

"...I wasn't going to blame you," came the Englishman's quiet response. "We can get out of here, though, can't we? /Can't we/?" the voice repeated, slightly shaken this time, slightly less composed. "Major? Answer me!"

"No," he said simply. "I don't think so." /It was supposed to be simple. The strange "Doctor" character had been appearing a lot in London, according to intelligence, so go to London...no one would think they had been captured by.../he didn't even know who they had been taken by, or where they were. "We should be prepared for the worst."

"They're going to...kill us?" the thief said slowly. "The magnificence of Eroica is going to be snuffed out in some stupid tiny little room God knows where-"

"Actually, I don't think they'll let us off that easily. I'm a NATO spy, they'll-"

"Torture?" Eroica asked in a small voice.

He said nothing. He could feel the earl's stare on him for a moment, though he could not bring himself to look at the thief just then. The thief, as annoying and troublesome as he had always been, was still a civilian. He didn't deserve whatever the KGB or Neo-Nazis terrorists were going to do to him.

"Oh...I see..." Eroica's voice was quiet, hardly familiar.

The thief looked away for a moment, large blue eyes filled with tears, and the major hated him, and he hated himself, and he hated that he felt guilty. "Well...it was worth it, Major. I wouldn't have missed it for the world," Eroica said finally, in a surprisingly steady voice.

"I wonder if you'll be thinking that when they start cutting off body parts."

He shouldn't have said it, he thought ruefully, as he watched Eroica's face lose all of its colour, and the thief stared at him with a frighteningly blank expression. Why did you say that? He's a harmless civilian thief, he...

The door opened with a bang, and the major steeled himself in preparation for the worst. He was prepared to see Mischa the Cub; he was prepared for electric shocks and knives and fists. He was prepared for terrorists, torture, interrogation, humiliation, and death.

But he wasn't prepared for a little robot dog that whisked into the room, gliding above the polished floor. It's body looked altogether like a grey metal box, with a sort of dog-shaped head and snout, a band of red acting as the eyes. Tiny clear satellite dishes perked up for the ears, and its nose seemed to be some sort of scanner.

Eroica and the major stared at it for a full minute, unblinking. Finally, the earl managed to choke out: "what...is that, Major?"

The robot dog swivelled around and fixed the earl with its red sight for a moment before chirping crisply: "Voice recognition and holographic image processing confirmed. Subject: Dorian Red Gloria, Earl of Gloria, other current alias: Eroica. Born July 28th, 1958. Human."

"You don't suppose it's some sort of...toy, do you?" the thief asked.

"I...don't know what the KGB would be doing with a...toy," Klaus answered finally.

"Subject: Major Klaus Heinz von dem Eberbach of NATO, confirmed. Born May 15th, 1955. Human," the robot continued. "Requested subjects are located, Mistress."

"Hey, hold up there, K-9!" a voice called, and a moment later a young woman forced the door open. "Damn, you've got yourselves into a bit of a mess here, haven't you?" she asked, brushing a long piece of blonde hair over her shoulder.

"You sound English," the earl said. "Are you from MI5? Oh God, Lawrence isn't here, is he?"

"MI5?" she repeated, obviously stifling a laugh as she shook her head at them. "What do you think? Come on now, let's get you out of here. I'm Rose Tyler, by the way."

"And how do you propose to 'get us out of here,' exactly?" the major demanded harshly. "A civilian has no place here. Get out before the KGB come back!"

"KGB?" Rose asked, but she merely looked at them with a confused expression and turned to the robot dog. "K-9, I want you to burn those ropes...And be quick about it, he said he was going to meet us here. Isn't it just like him to be tardy?"

Dorian caught his breath sharply as a red laser shot out of the robot dog's nose and burned into the thick knots of rope that bound his arms to the chair. The smell of burning rope caused a momentary flash of panic to sweep through him before the light shut off and the rope tumbled to the cement floor in charred fragments. Shivering once, the earl pulled himself together and practically leapt out of the chair, stumbling back against the wall.

"Well don't look so surprised, it's a perfectly ordinary electric dog!" Rose laughed, before assuming an almost-apologetic expression as the laser turned it's sights to Klaus' bindings. "I understand, though, I guess I'd have been just as surprised just a few weeks ago. Hard to believe, now, though..."

"It doesn't matter," the major said gruffly, stretching out his arms as he stood, shaking off the last bits of rope with indifference. "I suppose you have some sort of a plan on how we are to get out of here?"

"...Right. A plan..." Rose repeated, nodding thoughtfully.

The major looked ready to strangle her, when a voice called from the corridor: "The plan is to run!" Eroica turned to the doorway and a man, perhaps in his late thirties or early forties, with short black hair and a leather jacket practically ran into him. "I've taken care of this floor, but I think they're calling for back-up and we really don't want to be here or now when their boss finds out about this."

"Right," Dorian agreed, nodding and began to head after the stranger when he felt the major's iron grip on his shoulder.

"You," the major breathed through clenched teeth. "You're the 'Doctor,' aren't you?"

"Why yes, yes I am," the man grinned widely, seemingly oblivious to Iron Klaus' murderous glare, and extended his hand. "Hello, Major Eberbach."

"What is your real identity? Who do you work for? Answer me!" the major commanded.

"Terribly sorry, Major. But I'm afraid we don't have time for introductions right at the moment," the Doctor replied briskly.

Klaus instinctively reached for his magnum, before remembering he would have been disarmed. He felt unsettlingly naked without the gun's familiar weight in his shoulder holster. "We can not trust these people, Eroica."

"What? Why not?" the thief asked, tossing a wave of curls over his shoulder indignantly. "Weren't they in the process of saving us from torture and a grisly death, or did I just miss something here?"

"Yeah, that's right-we're trying to save your lives!" Rose exclaimed.

"This man is wanted by NATO Intelligence," the major stated firmly. "He may be a spy for the other side."

"Oh really, is that all?" the Doctor asked amiably.

The major was fairly sure he could feel his face changing colour as the blood curdled painfully in his temples.

"Um, could we maybe get out of here before we kill each other?" Eroica asked, looking worriedly from the major to the Doctor and back again.

Pounding footsteps clanged through the corridor beside them, and Rose turned to the Doctor.

"You can trust us," the stranger said, looking directly at Klaus and Dorian with a startlingly intensity that had not been there a moment ago.

But Major Eberbach was not a trusting man under normal circumstances, let alone trapped in some God-forsaken terrorist hideout, unarmed, with a bunch of sadistic killers chasing them. The robot dog spun around, facing the Doctor. "My scanners detect twenty guards approaching through the left hallway, Master."

"The left hallway, is it? Then I guess we're taking the right!" the Doctor grinned. Impossibly, the man was smiling again, and reached a hand for Rose, who took it without hesitation and the two darted out of the small interrogation cell, the robotic dog skidding along at their heels.

So, because there was no where else to go, the major and Eroica slipped out into the narrow, darkened hallway with them, and the four began to run. A moment later, they heard the guards following close behind them and came to a dead end.

Rose gasped as the Doctor pulled her to a shaky halt. Dorian glanced back down the hall over his shoulder. "We're in trouble," he said softly.

"Now what?" Rose asked.

"Well, we're in for a bit of a scuffle, no doubt," the Doctor replied easily.

"Oh sure, you can act all nonchalant, /you've /got two hearts! Try thinking about the rest of us, hmm?" she chided, hands on her hips.

"Hey, I saved us from the alien-inhabited zombies, didn't I?" he flashed her a grin.

"Hey, I bought us chips, didn't I?" she retorted and his grin widened.

"Come on, Rose, you know I'm never without a plan, what with being the genius that I am," the Doctor said, taking a long metal instrument from the pocket of his leather jacket. He held it up to the wall in front of them. It whirred and shone blue, and the next moment, the wall slid away, revealing a twisting corridor.

"Good show!" Dorian exclaimed, and yelped as the major grabbed his arm roughly and pulled him forwards. As they crossed the threshold, the wall slid back into place and the Doctor pointed his device at it again.

"There. They won't be getting through there anytime soon," he said.

"Um, Doctor..." Rose said.

"What?" he looked to where she was pointing.

"Oh."

The corridor before them split into three paths, and down the centre path a squadron of robots were advancing upon them. They looked like nothing Dorian had ever seen before-robots, or some sort of truly bizarre armour, though what manner of man they could be shielding he could not imagine-the casings were entirely metal, pepper-pot shaped shells lacking any kind of head or facial features save for one long extended eyestalk. A plunger and a rifle-like stick protruded where arms might go, and their mechanical limbs jerked wildly, the lenses on their eyestalks flashing. "INTRUDER! INTRUDER!" one screeched in a voice so piercing Eroica put his hands over his ears.

"What in God's name..." Klaus breathed.

"EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE!"

The rifle-arms fired and chunks of wall exploded inches from Dorian's head. "SHIT. MOVE. NOW!" Klaus roared, grabbing his arm and hauling him down the left corridor.

Rose and the Doctor ran after them, and it became a desperate race through twisting hallways that jutted at odd angles and turned sharply as though designed to slow their escape. The girl stumbled and almost fell, but the Doctor was instantly behind her and caught her in his arms against his chest. She turned her head back and looked up at him, and just for that second their eyes met and he brushed back a piece of her hair, his dark gaze swimming with concern.

"NEUTRALIZE THE INTRUDERS! EXTERMINATE THE IRREGULARITIES! EXTERMINATE!" the shrill shrieks echoed through the corridors behind them, and lasers fired, blowing bits of wall into chunks of flaming debris.

They ran again, their feet clattering against the metal floor, their breath coming in short gasps. Each twist, each bend seemed to take forever, until finally they stumbled through a wide doorway, and the Doctor turned to it and did something to lock it. So he said. The major didn't entirely trust him, but Eroica stumbled to a halt, gasping, and Klaus slowly allowed his gaze to take in their surroundings...

Unconsciously, he grasped the thief's shoulder so tightly he heard the blonde gasp. He found himself staring at the universe. The entire wall and ceiling of the room they had entered was covered by a transparent window, and the thick black sky unfolded everywhere, blazing stars scattered across the darkness and a red-golden sun burning and flaring before them.

Klaus could not stop staring at it, although he was quick to release the thief's shoulder. "Major?" Eroica's voice brought him back. "It's just a window. A really BIG window," the earl laughed nervously, twisting a golden curl around again, obviously quite shaken as well.

"Of course it is! Idiot!" the major snapped automatically, reaching for a cigarette with oddly shaking hands. I need a cigarette. And after this is over, one hell of a drink.

Oddly, if anything Eroica looked reassured by his outburst. Well, he hadn't understood the thief for more than ten years, no reason to start now. Taking a steadying breath from his cigarette, the major continued to survey their surroundings.

He saw that only one wall and half of the ceiling opened up to the great window, the rest of the area expanded into several more corridors, all long and narrow, sharing the same stark white walls.

Eroica was gazing out the windows and laughing. "This is-this is brilliant!" he enthused, stretching his arms as though to encompass the whole enormity of space. "What in the world /is /this place?" he asked, turning back to Klaus suddenly, the golden curls bouncing lightly off his shoulders and brushing his face. The major quickly became very interested in the remains of his cigarette and pulled out a second.

"Well, it's /not /in your world," the Doctor said, answering the earl's question.

"What do you mean 'not in our world?'" the major scowled. "I don't know what those weapons were that we were attacked with, I would guess some form of transportation device with weapons attached-"

"...very good!" said the Doctor, looking surprised.

"Like a tank!" the earl exclaimed.

The major glared at him. "No. Idiot. A tank is grand, powerful, not one of those foolish-looking toys-"

"Well, foolish-looking or not we /need /a tank to stop the Daleks," Rose said.

"Beg your pardon?" the earl asked.

"Enough of this! We have to get moving! Who knows how long that," he gestured to the wall, "will hold them!" with that he shoved the thief forwards roughly. A little too roughly, evidently, as the earl fell.

The thief glared up at him indignantly. "You're absolutely incapable of treating another person gently, aren't you?" he muttered, as the Doctor extended a hand and helped him to his feet.

The next thing the major saw made his blood run cold-the thief practically fell /into the stranger's arms! Eroica may have been a ridiculous fop, but he was still almost six feet tall and he had some/ muscle on him, and was quite capable of taking care of himself in most fights. So why he went nearly limp and practically draped himself over the Doctor, Klaus didn't want/ /to think about, although anger was seething through his veins and his hands clenched into fists.

"Oh, dreadfully sorry! I don't know what came over me," Eroica crooned, looking up at the Doctor almost shyly. "I seem to feel a little /faint /after all this excitement..."

"ENOUGH!" Klaus roared, grabbing a fist full of the thief's hair before he even thought about what he was doing, and pulling, hard.

With a startled yelp, Eroica stumbled backwards, and the Doctor stared on, looking quite baffled and a bit confused. However Rose, Klaus noted, looked positively livid. "Enough is right!" she snapped.

"More Daleks are approaching, Master," K-9 reported suddenly, and the major started, he had forgotten about the dog.

"What is that, anyways?" Dorian asked, looking at the metal dog curiously. "It's rather cute, you know. I might like one." The dog's tail wagged.

"Would you keep your mind on the situation at hand for /once/?" the major growled. "We have to find a way out of here," he muttered, pulling a cigarette out of his pocket and lighting it.

"How can you smoke at a time like this?" Rose demanded.

The major glared at her.

The shrill cries of the Daleks interrupted them once again, and they set off running. The major felt his blood boiling-he hated running from the enemy like a coward-if only he had his magnum he would have-

"Get down!" He heard the Doctor's voice in the background, and in the next instant a fiery explosion cut off the path in front of them.

He felt Eroica tug on his arm. "This way!" the thief shouted, and a moment later they had slipped through a narrow doorway and were running down a parallel corridor.

They ran for twenty minutes before Klaus realized they had been separated from the Doctor and the girl. It was also only then that he noticed how pale and shaken Lord Gloria looked. It wasn't like him. Eroica turned back to him, offering a shaky and not-in-the-least sincere smile.

"What are we going to do about the Doctor?" the earl asked, glancing back down the hallway. "And that girl? And the poor little dog?"

"The dog is a robot," the major replied. "Besides, there's nothing we can do about it now."

"God. How can you be so heartless?"

The major snorted. "I've been trying to tell you-that man is an agent for the other side. I was sent to London by NATO to investigate him. We only know him by the code name 'Doctor' and...well, my idiot superiors think he's some sort of 'alien.'"

"Really?" the earl asked, slowly regaining his usual spirits as he cast the major a sidelong look. "He didn't seem so bad to me."

"Well I suppose not, you were /draping yourself all over him, after all!" the major snapped with a bitterness that surprised even himself. "It isn't like you to be clumsy, Eroica," he practically growled. "Or '/faint.' Even you aren't that idiotic, perverted fop though you are."

"Ooh?" Dorian asked, playfully batting his eyelashes. "Are you jealous, darling?" The thief practically sang. "If I didn't know any better-"

"Don't be an idiot!" he snapped, barely restraining from hitting the annoying degenerate. "I was thinking that you must have picked the stranger's pockets."

"Oh, you know me too well, darling," the thief gave a dramatic sigh. "You're right you know, and the man has such curious, curious things..."

"Like what? Did you get that device he used to open the door?"

"Well, knowing how much you love your machines I just /had /to get it for you," he cooed, Klaus glowered at him and snatched the device out of his hands. "What other things do you suppose it can be used for, Major, besides opening doors?"

"How should I know?" Klaus retorted. "It must be some new technology the Soviets are using. We'll hand it over to NATO when we get back."

"You don't suppose it could be used as...some sort of toy do you?" Eroica asked suddenly, biting back a giggle, eyes sparkling mischievously.

"No, do not be stupid, thief. What sort of-PERVERT!!" and Eroica had the pleasure of watching Iron Klaus' face change several angry colours before the--item in question--was chucked forcibly at his head.

Eroica somehow managed to stifle his laughter, and returned the strange device to his pockets, jogging a little to catch up with the major, who was muttering what sounded like angry German curses under his breath. "There's this too," he said, pulling out a small blank card, and an ordinary-enough-looking key.

"What good is a blank piece of paper?" the major muttered.

As they turned the next bend in the hallway they found themselves stopping, suddenly face-to-face with a large blue box. "Why it's a police public call box!" Eroica exclaimed. "I haven't seen one in years! But what's it doing here?"

The German regarded the blue box suspiciously, but Dorian chalked it up to the fact that the major regarded /everything /suspiciously.

He tried to open the door. "Locked," Eroica sighed, "I could pick it, of course-"

"Why are we wasting time doing this?" the major frowned. "Our enemies-"

"I wonder..." he fished the small nondescript key out of his pocket and put it in to the lock. It fit perfectly. "...huh."

"What?" Klaus hissed.

"I think this police box belongs to that Doctor," he replied uneasily.

"That makes no sense,"

"The key I took out of his pocket fits perfectly," he murmured. "Besides, I thought they dismantled all of these /years /ago."

"Enough!" the major ordered, "It doesn't MATTER if he's eccentric and keeps a bloody-" but the door had already been opened, and Dorian stepped jauntily inside.

Everything was pitch black, that was Dorian's first thought as he felt the wooden door close behind them. Then slowly, he was able to see...

He ran back outside and grabbed the major's arm. "Shit! What do you think you're doing, you bloody pervert?!"

"Major, come quick, you have to see this-"

"See what? You pervert, you're trying to lure me into that disgustingly small box to-"

"Just shut up and go!!" Eroica exclaimed, shoving the obstinate German through the blue doors.

The major had walked in front of him, and was suddenly standing still, blocking his path. Dorian collided with Klaus' back, and stumbled around him a bit shakily, grasping the German's arm. He expected to be pushed roughly away, but the major was just standing there, perfectly still, as though in shock. "I told you-" he whispered.

The inside of the police box was not the inside of a police box at all! The room opened up into a massive circular area, tall metal arms snaking down like twisted support columns. The walls-spacious around them-were tall, and the sheen of silver metal was covered by a dully glowing coral-like material. The...room...appeared to be a mesh of technology and organic life. While Dorian was gazing with wide eyes and not the least bit of awe, Klaus noticed that in the centre of the large circular room stood a thick clear column in the midst of a many-sided control station. Piled all around it was a rather chaotic mess of machinery-computer screens, metal trays and convoluted messes of wire and cables, levers, cranks, a bicycle pump, and so much he couldn't even fathom what it could possibly be used for. He caught sight of doorways and the corners of hallways stretching out around them as well. It was incredibly, impossibly huge.

"It's bigger on the inside than the outside," Dorian whispered after a moment.

Klaus made a sort of disconcerted sound deep in his throat and turned hastily, groping for the door, but froze when Eroica tugged on his coat. "We can't go back out there, those robots-"

"So what?! What makes you think we will be safe in this God-damn box?!" the major shouted, pulling out of his grasp.

"But Major...it looks like a control room of sorts, don't you think?" he asked, walking closer to the piles of equipment that he came to realize were like a control panel.

"What the hell is it?" the major asked in a low voice, rubbing the bridge of his nose and roughly jerking a cigarette out of the pack in his pocket. "It's...bigger on the inside...than...the outside...God damn it!"

"Oh, darling! Just think-wouldn't it be wonderful if this was the control centre for some sort of alien spaceship!" Eroica exclaimed suddenly, flourishing his arms dramatically.

"Don't be an idiot," Klaus growled. But he was still too stunned to properly yell at the thief, and in all honesty he hadn't the slightest notion /what /they had gotten themselves into, either. Suddenly, everything his idiot superiors had said about the 'Doctor' in their report came swimming back into his head.

"Hmmm..." the earl began thoughtfully, running his long slender thieves' fingers across the machinery apparatus. "What do you suppose this is all for? I say, they ought to clean it up a little. And it's so dreadfully plain along these walls...I mean with all this room you think they could hang up a painting or /something/. Although, the coral-effect is quite nice. Very...organic looking."

"Don't be an idiot," the major growled, "this is obviously some sort of military...contraption. Not a plaything!" the officer frowned sternly, joining Eroica at the control panel. He began peering in and around the various objects and screens, studying the array of cables and wires and prodding bits of the apparatus.

"I should have known /you /would like it," the thief sighed, "Machine Maniac..." he said it affectionately, even as the major glared disapprovingly at him. "Ah well. Hey, I wonder what this does?" the thief asked, flicking a random switch.

"You idiot!" the major shouted. "Don't touch anything! Knowing you're luck with machines, you'll wind up killing us both!"

The thief was about to object, that surely the major was overreacting just a little, when the entire room began to vibrate. The walls trembled and shook, and the floor lurched up wildly beneath them, causing Dorian to fall off his feet and land on the cold metal floor with a loud and rather undignified crash. He heard Klaus stumble and grope for something to hold onto above him and thought: hm. Maybe I /shouldn't /have touched it.

In a moment, the violent tremors came to a halt and the machine became completely still and quiet once again. "What...was that?" Dorian asked, rubbing his head a little as he sat up. "Probably messed up my hair..."

The major was staring at everything with a sort of dazed expression. "I've had enough of this...idiocy..." he growled, storming back towards the door.

"But the-"

"I don't care! I'm not staying in this-this-/THIS/!" with a final angry shout, the major flung open the wooden door, and stopped. Closed the door. Turned around. Walked back to where Dorian was sitting on the floor, and shakily lit a cigarette.

Dorian had never, in his life, seen the major 'shakily light a cigarette.' He had never seen the major pale faced and well, as /disturbed /as he looked just then. "Major...?" he asked quietly. "Darling?"

Klaus didn't yell at him. Klaus didn't even appear to /hear /him. Something was definitely wrong. Dorian glanced at the door hesitantly, then got up and crossed the control room, moved down a little ramp he hadn't noticed on the way in, turned back one last time to see the major staring into space, smoking with a very glazed expression on his face, shrugged, and opened the door.

They were definitely not where they had been.

Sunlight momentarily blinded him. Then, blinking, Eroica noticed the thick twisting grass that rolled out beneath the wooden box for miles around. Enormous trees spiralled up in twisting masses, their leaves impossibly huge, thick vines and giant glistening flowers hanging from them.

Dorian stared at the scenery with wide eyes, then gripped the corners of the wooden doorframe tightly as the ground began to tremble. He heard the inhuman screeches of something like birds that took flight in thick black clouds from the distant treetops, and then he saw the trees themselves begin to tremble and rustle, as the shaking grew stronger. The earl felt his knees turn to water and had to grip the blue doorway just to remain standing.

The Earl of Gloria knew just enough about dinosaurs to know that the fact that a tyrannosaurus rex was looming above him was probably not a good thing. The beast towered fifteen feet above the small wooden police box, its head was easily twice the length of Dorian's body, and it tilted to one side for a second, staring down at the blue box with one large red eye. A hot gust of breath flared through one giant nostril before it turned back, rearing its long muscular neck, and opening its massive jaws to reveal rows of jagged white teeth.

Eroica stared up at it with wide eyes. His legs felt like water so he was fairly certain he wouldn't be able to run from it even if he knew where to run /to/. "Hm," he swallowed. "And to think, I always wanted one of these when I was a boy."

He hadn't heard the major come up behind him, but stared with wide eyes as the great gaping jaws began to drop down towards him, only to feel himself being suddenly jerked backwards and forcibly thrown to the floor of the police box. Major Eberbach, not knowing what else to do, slammed the wooden door shut, expecting at any moment for the wood to be blown to splinters as a giant reptile snout burst through. It didn't happen.

"Uh...thanks..." Dorian managed shakily, for the moment unable to get up off the floor.

Klaus glared at him. "I am not letting you die until you fix whatever the hell you did."

"What /I /did? Don't blame that thing on /me/!" Eroica squeaked, pointing a shaky finger at the doorway.

"You're the one who hit that switch!"

"How was I supposed to know THIS is what would happen? You know I'm not very mechanically minded, I don't exactly know a time-machine when I see it!"

"It's not a time machine! That's-that's impossible!"

"Then what in God's name is it?!"


*


Rose dove for cover behind a crumbling piece of wall. "Doctor!"

"This is worse than I thought," the Doctor mused, watching the Daleks approach. "K-9, try to stunning them!"

A red burst of light shot from the robot dog's nose, frying the metal casing of one of the Daleks and causing it to burst into flames, screeching and jerking it's mechanical limbs wildly. The rest continued to roll towards them. "EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE!"

"SURRENDER, INTRUDERS," the creatures stated in their shrill voices. "YOU SHALL BE EXTERMINATED!"

"Now, now, there's no need to do anything rash," the Doctor said hurriedly.

"You don't need to do this," Rose added.

"MEDDLESOME TIME LORD. YOU SHALL BE EXTERMINATED!"

"Oh, well, actually it just so happens we have a previous engagement," the Doctor replied, beginning to back away, and pulling Rose with him. "It seems we are just in the middle of...well.../living/, really." He reached into the pockets of his leather jacket and felt around. "Now, where's my Sonic Screwdriver? Oh no..."

"Doctor?" Rose asked.

"New plan, Rose! Run for your life!"

They skidded back down the hallway, K-9 whirring along at their heels, turning through tunnels and corridors, flashes of outer space appearing through the great windows that loomed everywhere. She almost took a wrong turn, but the Doctor grabbed her hand, and she felt his fingers clasp roughly around hers as he pulled her in the right direction.

Finally, he turned to her and caught her against him, "it's alright, we've gotten far enough away," he told her as she gasped for breath. "And the TARDIS is right through this next door."

"How are you going to open it without your sonic screwdriver?" Rose asked.

"The old fashioned way," he replied, grinning, and slammed the control panel beside the door with the side of his fist. It broke open and he began to examine the wires as she leaned against the wall, catching her breath. "K-9, be a good boy and patch these two wires for me with your laser, will you?"

"Yes, Master," the dog replied.

It was hardly the first time Rose had found herself running for her life in the Doctor's company, and she highly doubted it would be the last. Suddenly the whole thing seemed very funny.

"What are you laughing about?" the Doctor asked, looking at her with a mixture of amusement and concern.

"Nothing, nothing," she smiled, wiping a tear out of the corner of her eye. "So, have you figured out where these fake Daleks are coming from yet?"

"Nope," he replied, grinning, the familiar twinkle in his eyes. "Not a clue!"

She just laughed. "Fat lot of good you are, then!"

He laughed in response, reached forwards and grasped her hand in that almost careless, friendly way that made her heart jump and her blood burn in her veins. She locked her fingers securely around his as K-9 finished his work and the door slid open.

"This beats sitting around eating chips and watching the telly any day!" she grinned.

"That's the spirit, Rose! Now, let's go find our friends and get my sonic screwdriver back."

"So did that guy really steal it?" she asked, choking back a laugh. "He picked your pockets? What, you've been around for 900 years and you can still get duped by that whole pretending to faint bit?"

He shrugged. "We'll meet up with them again, Rose."

"But don't you already know what's going to happen?" she asked. "I mean, here you are-a /Time Lord/-traversing back and forth through time and all across the galaxy, I mean you've seen the earth end-"

"So have you," he added.

"-why don't you already know what's going to happen?"

He laughed. "Well, what would be the fun in living if I /knew /what was going to happen, Rose? This is what I live for-the adventure, the excitement-to watch history happen without always knowing how it's going to turn out. Come on, don't pretend you don't like it, too!"

She shook her head, laughing. "You're crazy," she said affectionately. "Just crazy. But you're right," she squeezed his hand quickly. "I wouldn't miss it for the world."

But he broke away from her in the next instant, sweeping around the wide empty room that opened before them, looking absolutely horrified. "My TARDIS! My fabulous time ship! Is this where we left it?"

"Yes, I thought it was...what could have happened to it?" she asked.

"Oh /no/..." the Doctor said suddenly, feeling the pockets of his leather jacket.

"What?"

"The Sonic Screwdriver wasn't the only thing I had in my jacket pocket! The-my TARDIS' key!"

Rose stared at him, eyes widening as she realized what he was saying. "You mean those two-the blonde and that German bloke are-"

"Two HUMANS are mucking around in my time-ship!" the Doctor cried. "Little apes, BARELY able to function as a civilization, babies that haven't even left the womb-with no knowledge of time and space and the magnitude of the universe-are MUCKING AROUND IN MY FABULOUS TARDIS!"

"Master-" K-9 chirped.

"Not /now/, K-9!" the Doctor groaned. "Can't you see what's happened? Oh what have they /done/?"

"Master-"

"I said not now, K-9!"

"Uh...Doctor?" Rose asked.

"EXTERMINATE!"

He drew back, eyes wide. "No, not now..."

"EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE!" the Dalek horde raised their rifle-arms towards the Doctor and Rose and fired.

Rose screamed and the Doctor pulled her down, as the wall exploded behind them. K-9's ears whirred and his eyes flashed. "Danger, Master! Danger!"

"Yes, we /know/, K-9!" the Doctor shouted.

The lasers continued to explode over their heads, when the familiar pulsing whirr of the TARDIS engines roared in their ears. The next moment, the familiar blue police box was standing between them and the Daleks.

Rose had barely gotten over her shock when the Doctor flung himself at the wooden doors, pounding on them and shouting. "Hey, in there! Get out of my ship!" He banged on the door loudly, knowing it was useless, after all he himself had told her that all the armies of Genghis Khan had tried and failed to break through those seemingly-wooden doors.

But a moment later, the blue door creaked open, and a pale blonde man stumbled out, his long golden curls tumbling over his face until he quickly pushed the unruly locks back. "That's um...quite the...police box you have there, Doctor," he said, smiling a little shakily. "I might have even been tempted to steal it if I wasn't so dreadful with machines."

"Alright, you've had your fun, now you and your friend get out of my TARDIS," the Doctor said, crossing his arms over his chest in a manner that made him look more like a petulant child than a commanding Time Lord.

And Rose almost commented on that, except that the deafening blast behind them jolted through her bones. At their feet, K-9 was beeping a loud warning. "Get in the TARDIS!" she yelled.

"But-" the Doctor began to object, and she could swear he was pouting.

"Get IN!" she exclaimed, shoving both Time Lord and blonde thief into the police box and slamming the door behind K-9 as several more laser shots exploded behind them.

Once safely in the TARDIS, Rose leaned back against the closed door and sighed deeply. "That was too close," she murmured.

"Come on, you call /that /too close?" the Doctor asked. "What about the time you were an inch away from being fried in the direct heat of the sun and I couldn't get the door to the observation deck open?"

Not exactly sure how she was supposed to take that comment, Rose decided to turn her attention to their two new guests. The Doctor had told her "we're going to rescue two of our friends. You haven't met them yet, and they haven't met me, but I've met them and...oh, never mind it's too complicated for a human.." So then, these two men would be joining them? These two would be companions to the Doctor. It wouldn't just be her anymore, his only friend, his only companion.

It should not have stung as much as it did. She told herself that she was being selfish and jealous for absolutely no reason. She clenched her hands and forced her eyes to stare down at K-9, trying to concentrate on something other than the unpleasant feelings knotting in her chest. The image of the blonde draping himself all over the Doctor during their escape resurfaced in her mind.

The Doctor rubbed his hands together, his face alight with the childish energy and the enthusiasm she found so endearing. "Alright then, let's introduce ourselves, shall we? We were sort of rushed before. I'm the Doctor."

The dark-haired man, who had been standing silently in the background since Rose and the Doctor had entered the TARDIS, shook his head at this, and walked over to them, boots falling loudly against the TARDIS' floor with the distinctive stride of a military officer. "What is your /name/?" he demanded.

"Just the Doctor," the Doctor repeated with his usual easy amiability, smiling away as always.

"And what are you a doctor /of/, exactly?" the German asked dryly.

"Oh, everything," the Doctor answered easily.

The officer looked ready to kill someone.

"I'm Rose Tyler," she put in, before they could start going in circles.

"Dorian Red Gloria," the blonde said, nodding to her in a movement that somehow seemed to encompass all the grace and flourish of a regal bow. "The Earl of Gloria, at your service."

"So you are some spoiled aristocrat," Rose said, the words flying out of her mouth before she thought about them.

To her surprise, he just laughed. "I'm also known as Eroica, art thief extraordinaire," he told her, this time he did bow, a full-blown theatrical performance.

"WHY did you just tell them your name AND your criminal alias?" the dark-haired officer thundered at him suddenly, "even YOU aren't that much of an idiot, you idiot!"

"Come on, we can trust each other," the Doctor said. "After all, we're in this together, aren't we? And you're Major Eberbach, aren't you?"

The major gave the Doctor a look that was part withering contempt and part confusion. Finally he appeared to relent and sighed. "Major Klaus Heinz von dem Eberbach, of NATO," he said, grudgingly.

"And /he's the head of the family related to the German branch of the Hapsburgs, so I'm not the /only /blueblood, you know." Dorian added enthusiastically. The major gave him a look that said pure murder and was obviously on the verge of gathering enough air into his lungs to really shout at the Englishman, and all Rose could think was /great, just bloody great.

"So are you an alien?" Eroica asked the Doctor.

The Doctor smiled pleasantly and nodded. He seemed quite flattered, actually. "Yep, Time Lord, to be exact. And this is my fabulous TARDIS. That's Time-And-Relative-Dimension-In-Space."

"Why, that's magnificent!" the earl said enthusiastically. "I mean, here you are-a real live alien and your space ship/! Why that's /brilliant!"

"Don't say such idiot things!" the major snapped angrily, clearly a little put-off by the fact that he hadn't had a chance to yell at the thief yet for the remark about his family.

"It's not just a space ship," the Doctor explained, grinning from ear to ear. " 's a time machine, too."

"We got that, yeah," Klaus muttered darkly.

"The TARDIS is dimensionally transcendental," the Doctor continued, following the blonde's gaze as Dorian continued to crane his neck to look around the alien structure.

"Oooh!" he exclaimed appreciatively.

"Do you even know what that means?" the major snapped.

The thief blinked at him, "Why no, darling. But it sounds awfully impressive."

The NATO officer looked ready to throttle the thief, so Rose decided to intervene. With a determined shake of her head, the blonde young woman marched in between them, "It /means /the TARDIS is bigger on the inside than the out."

"Well we /already /figured that one out, you know," Dorian said. "You know, you really /should /do something with the décor. Some paintings, a statue over there, perhaps...a couple of nice oriental rugs, that sort of thing..."

"Not this again!" Klaus groaned, pulling out a cigarette and lighting it.

The Doctor was, in the mean time, following the earl's gaze and fluttery gestures around the control room as though actually considering it. Rose decided to put a stop to that. "Enough! The TARDIS is fine just the way it is! It's a space ship...time machine...police box...thing...not a bloody hotel lobby!"

The earl pouted and looked quite annoyed by her interference, whereas the Doctor merely shrugged amicably and went back to jabbing buttons and flicking switches around the control station as though he had forgotten them all already.

"Are you an alien too?" Eroica asked finally, looking her over quizzically.

"NO!" she snapped. "I'm a NORMAL human girl, not that I suppose /you /would know!" it came out sounding even more bitter and unfair than she had intended, and she felt heat rise to her face at the rudeness of what she had just said. She was a nineteen year old woman, for God's sake, she told herself, she shouldn't be getting so upset just because she was a little jealous.

The silence that had descended in the TARDIS was quickly growing uncomfortable, even for the Doctor it seemed, who quickly piped up with, "She's from the year 2005, though!"

"Really...so..." Dorian attempted to make conversation. "...how does the Cold War turn out?"

*

"So, how did the TARDIS come back to the right time and place for us?" Klaus overheard Rose asking the Doctor sometime later.

"Oh, well she would definitely come back for us," the Doctor said, regarding his ship affectionately. "She's really more...more than just a machine. And even with all the trouble she's given me in the past, she'd never abandon me like that. She's alive you know. This ship has a soul."

Great. So it wasn't just a police box that was a space-ship on the inside, it was a police box that was a space-ship on the inside that was /emotional/. That had a /soul/.

Gott.

Klaus rubbed his eyelids, he felt tired suddenly. What the hell was going on? He couldn't quite come to terms with everything he had learned over the past few hours, and to think that they were hurdling through time and space inside of a small wooden box...

"What are you thinking?" the familiar voice interrupted his brooding. Eroica was draped around one of the twisting coral-like supports of the control room, a thoughtful look on his face. "It's really something, isn't it? I mean this, here?"

"Do you never stop talking?" Klaus sighed.

"Come on, darling, I haven't been bothering you in a while. I just had a very interesting conversation with that Doctor chap. He met Michelangelo /and /Shakespeare /and /Leonardo Da Vinci /and/- just think!" the earl sighed wistfully.

"I'm glad /you're /enjoying yourself," the major snarled, his voice thick with sarcasm. "Meanwhile, NATO's probably proclaimed us missing or dead, and who knows what the KGB are doing..."

"Must you always think about work?" the thief sighed, brushing back a wave of golden curls that tumbled over his face. The diamond necklace he had stolen was still glittering around his neck.

"I wonder why they didn't take that from you," the major said suddenly. "It's obviously valuable-gaudy flashy crap like that usually is."

Eroica gave him a withering gaze, then shrugged. "Who knows? We don't even know who 'they' were, right? We're in a space ship and a time machine, darling. Our new friends are an alien, a girl from the future, and a robot dog. They could have been anyone, right?"

The major frowned, lighting another cigarette. He hadn't considered that before. Even in the midst of all the chaos he had thought that their enemies were still the KGB or Neo-Nazis or some other terrorist group he was familiar with. But this...
His thoughts were interrupted by the sound of Eroica arguing with the young woman. ""Honestly, England has a proud history of handsome outlaws! Just look at Robin Hood."

Rose rolled her eyes. "Oh please! You have some nerve claiming to be like Robin Hood."

"I steal from the rich, don't I?"

"And give to yourself!"

"Putting me half-way there," came the decisive response.

Rose placed her hands on her hips observing the thief steadily, "How can you even /pretend /to justify robbing people of their national and cultural heritage? I remember reading about you in history class-"

/Ouch/, Eroica winced. Just watching their faces, you could tell /that /remark made him feel old. Never mind that Rose /did /come from decades into the earl's future.

Rose continued on, she was back to her confident, opinionated self, the Doctor mused. "-you stole an entire /wing /from the National Gallery of London, didn't you?"

"For your information I returned /those paintings! And for FREE, too. My poor little accountant cried his eyes out for WEEKS after that fiasco. All I kept was one little /Bronzini I fancied. And I gave them a bloody good forgery to hang up in it's place!"

"That! That's terrible//! You can't just run about doing things like that!"

The Doctor turned back to the TARDIS' control panel, hurriedly finding /something /to tinker around with. It had been a long time since he had an entire group of companions traveling with him, and to hear the walls of his ship reverberate with the raised voices of an argument...or maybe it was to hear Rose in one of her arguments with someone other than himself...it was more than a little odd. Odd and slightly uncomfortable. He didn't do 'domestic,' after all, as the granddaughter he had left in London so many decades, and nine incarnations, earlier would surely agree.

That Rose, he thought again, shaking his head slightly as he bent over the control panels with his sonic screwdriver (Eroica had graciously returned it to him) and listened to her arguing. She could get so/ emotional over things. And so /vocal/. Like at the end of the world when she just /had /to start a fight with the last living human...And then she had gotten angry at /him /because the TARDIS could read her mind! It was only trying to /help by translating the alien languages for her, for goodness' sake!

He had never had a companion quite like her before. With a quiet sigh, the Doctor raised his head a little at the momentary silence that had descended upon the TARDIS. It didn't last.

"/I/, at least, /appreciate /the beauty of art. The people I rob would keep the beauty of a Renoir locked away in some stuffy old vault, or hide a priceless Ming vase in the depths of a closet like an old coat!"

"I sincerely doubt /anyone /keeps a Ming vase packed in their closet," Rose replied, rolling her eyes.

"I'm surprised you even know what one is," the earl replied stuffily. "You don't exactly strike me as the 'cultured' type, Miss Tyler."

She looked at him in a way that made the Doctor inwardly cringe and be thankful that he wasn't, for once, the recipient. "Oh is that so? Well at least I would never wear /that hideous catsuit/!"

"How dare you! This just happens to be the uniform of my chosen profession. And besides, you should be the last person on Earth to complain about anyone's fashion sense, Miss Bright-Pink Sweater!"

"Excuse me! WHAT exactly is wrong with my sweater?"

The Doctor bent back over the control panel. There was always something /that needed fixing. He hazarded a wayward glance to the figure of the German officer who was leaning against one of the twisting support columns, rather determinedly smoking another cigarette. Evidently he/ didn't 'do domestic,' either.

"Right then," the Doctor muttered, pulling one of the control panel's many levers with a firm yank.

Instantly, the TARDIS' lurched violently, sending Rose and Eroica both sprawling ungracefully to the floor. The major smirked. K-9 skidded a bit on the uneven floor. The Doctor clapped his hands together with a wide grin plastered on his face. "Alright! Let's get to the fun part, where I tell you all what's going on here."

"You can do that, huh?" Eroica asked, looking up through a mess of dishevelled blonde curls.

Rose merely glared at all of them and turned away. The Doctor watched her for a moment of evident confusion before shrugging it off and continuing, "ah, yes, that I can. Currently we're several centuries in your future. Those creatures who attacked us earlier-Rose and I called them 'Daleks,' but they're not /really /Daleks, they're like cheap knock-off imitations, you see? The real Daleks were utterly ruthless, merciless killers. They had no pity, no sympathy. What you would see was just their armour, the transportation device. What it housed was the final evolution of a race that was at one time much like your own. In order to survive in their mutated forms, building the transportation devices was obviously a necessity. But..."

"They became killers?" the major said.

The Doctor nodded grimly. "The Daleks-the transportation shells-were created during a war so they needed to be capable of fighting, and killing. However their creator took that one step further...by erasing all sense of pity or sympathy, to ensure that his creations would be capable of killing all of their enemies...the 'inferior races.'

"The creatures you face in that space station were /inspired /by those horrible creatures but they're not...real. They aren't living things, they're just robots-no offense, K-9-built in the model of Daleks-a race that inspired terror in the universe for centuries. They're being manufactured as a weapon, a frighteningly effective one that their owner is using to enslave several non-violent planets in this galaxy."

"Mmmkay, so what do you want us to do about it?" Eroica asked, still sitting on the floor.

"I have responsibilities in my own time, Doctor!" the major said, "I have no time for this!"

"I'm surprised to hear that coming from Iron Klaus," the Doctor told him. "You have the chance to save millions-billions of lives this way. I don't think we can pull it off without you. Besides, this is a time machine, I can return you to your own time not ten seconds after you were originally abducted."

"Why were we abducted, anyways?" Dorian asked, looking up at them curiously.

The major nodded. "That is a very good question. Doctor?"

"Well, I'm thinking, because the owner and producer of these faux-Daleks /knows /that you two happen to be good friends of mine-"

"We /aren't/," said the major.

"Now is that any way to treat an old friend?"

"But we aren't-"

"Doctor, we have never met before," Eroica said, pushing himself off the floor.

The Time Lord sighed, "I should have known you wouldn't recognize me, but-everything I've said still holds! Major, Eroica, I need your help!"

The major snorted. "Even if you did need /my /help to save the Earth from this menace, what do you need him for?" he asked, pointing at the thief.

The Doctor rolled his eyes. "Are you going to help me or not?"

"We still don't know that these... 'Daleks' are much of a threat, Doctor," the major said, "for all we know this has been some sort of elaborate hoax-"

"Fine," the Doctor said, pulling a lever on the TARDIS' control panel. The centre pillar whined as they came to a shuddering halt. "You don't believe this is a space ship? You don't believe those mass-manufactured Daleks are a threat to the universe? Step out that door," he said, "I'll prove to you how much you're needed. But first, Major, I have something that I think belongs to you."

The Time Lord crossed the console room and took the major's magnum from one of the trays. Iron Klaus snatched it from furiously, "You! How did you get-"

"I took the liberty of retrieving it from your captors," the Doctor explained cheerfully. "It was why I was a little late meeting up with you. Can you still fire with only one hand?"

The major looked at him in surprise for a moment, before sighing. "Alright," he said. "Let's see what's out there."

The Doctor nodded grimly and gestured towards the TARDIS' doors. "Fantastic."

*

The smell of smoke, of rot and decay blanketed the still air. The smoldering ruins of what had once been a city, and was now a war zone, surrounded them. At the major's feet, the robotic dog's satellite-ears twisted around on its head and it made a low whirring sound, almost a growl, its thin metal tail standing on end.

"Danger, Master. Daleks are approaching."

"Where are we, Doctor?" Eroica asked, looking around at the desolate wasteland and coughing. "The air..."

"We've landed on the planet Renfar III, one of the worlds perilously close to the space station we just fled from," the Doctor replied. "Renfar I and II have already been enslaved by the fake Dalek armies."

"And you're sure these aren't real...Daleks?" Dorian asked.

The Doctor shook his head grimly. "The real Daleks enslaved hundred, thousands of planets before the final war. The Time War, my people fought against them."

"And your people...the Time Lords...won?" Dorian asked.

"No," the Doctor said, "Not really. But the Daleks were destroyed. All ten million ships."

"Then what-"

"Well, K-9, how far away did you say our enemies were?"

"Ten yards and approaching rapidly, Master," the small ears whirred back and forth.

"INTRUDERS. INTRUDERS! IRREGULAR LIFEFORMS DETECTED!"

Dorian jumped, and the major raised the loaded magnum, as the Daleks rolled over the hills of twisted metal slag and debris before them, eyestalks spinning. "You said ten yards!" the Doctor shouted at K-9.

"The smoke interferes with my sensors," the little dog replied smartly.

"Great, just bloody great..."

"Negative, Master."

"DO NOT MOVE. YOU ARE PRISONERS."

"YOU WILL BE EXTERMINATED."

Klaus snapped back, raising the magnum at the same time the Daleks were preparing to fire from their gun-arms. He squeezed the trigger as laser fire ripped through the air, burning a smoking crater deep into the earth inches from Klaus' right foot. His own bullets raced towards the metal casing of the Dalek shells, but seemed to dissolve in midair before reaching their targets.

"They have a force-field around the body," the Doctor shouted.

"Doctor, we have to get out of here!" Rose shouted, as laser fire struck the ground around them, sending K-9 skidding sharply backwards, just narrowly avoiding incineration.

"Aim for the eyestalk!" the Doctor told Klaus quickly. "Rose, Eroica-run! NOW!"

The Dalek's eye swiveled towards them, the rifle-arm raised, and in that split-second, Klaus fired. The glowing blue orb exploded in a rain of glass and metal splinters. The Dalek's body shuddered and jerked wildly. The other two, which had come up behind it, turned their solitary eyes towards the major.

"INTRUDERS MUST BE EXTERMINATED."

"INFERIOR LIFEFORMS."

"Why would he have them built to say this?" the Doctor muttered, his expression dark. But he knew the answer: psychological. They're terrifying, /he thought as the thin high-pitched voices continued to shriek out. /

"Damn it," Klaus cursed, involuntarily backing away a step as the creatures advanced, swiveling across the uneven terrain on their flat treads. He collided with the earl, and risked a quick glance from the corner of his eye, to see Eroica still standing there behind him, blue eyes round and wide, staring at the aliens as though in shock. Rose Tyler stood a few feet behind him, looking terrified, ready to run, but hesitating on the earl's account.

A shrill blast echoed in his ears and a spray of dirt burst up an inch from his feet. K-9's ears twisted around, the red eye-band flashing. "Danger, Master-!" The loyal robot instantly fired a volley of brilliant red lasers towards the encroaching Daleks, but it seemed to have little affect as their enemies continued to advance.

Scowling, Klaus turned and shoved Eroica roughly, just barely able to restrain himself from knocking the thief off his feet. "Eroica! Go! Now!" He knocked the earl down with one final shove-sending the thief behind an overturned slab of rubble as the enemy fire swept over them again.

Ducking to the right, the major fired two more shots, and heard the satisfying sound of another of the glass eyepieces shattering and the inhuman shrieks of the damaged robot that followed. Dropping low to the ground for a second, Klaus reloaded the gun and hazarded another quick glance to where he had knocked Eroica. Hopefully at least the idiot would have the sense to stay out of the way this time.

From his crouching position, Klaus tightened his grip on the reloaded gun and grimaced. Although the grimace was almost a smile. These alien bastards had yet to encounter the wrath of Iron Klaus.

The Daleks' mechanical limbs jerked back and forth again, the creatures shuddering slightly, sensors whirring as they prepared for another strike. The major leapt up and fired another six shots, before dropping back down into a defensive crouch behind an overturned heap of slag, much like the one he had knocked the earl behind.

On the other side, he could hear the inhuman voices screeching: "MY VISION IS IMPAIRED. I CAN NOT SEE."

"EXTERMINATE! THE INFERIOR LIFEFORMS MUST BE EXTERMINATED!"

"MY VISION IS IMPAIRED. I CAN NOT SEE. UNABLE TO COMPLY."

The major allowed a small smirk to work its way across his face.

"How are we doing?" a voice asked suddenly, startlingly close to his ear.

"God damn it," the major growled, as the Doctor crouched down beside him. "You are almost as bad as that insufferable thief."

"Who is safe, by the way,"

Klaus glared at him, but the Doctor kept going all the same. "Look-he and Rose are both safe, well as safe as they can be in this situation. They've run off, got at least ten yards on us by now, and I've sent K-9 with them."

"We could have used that dog," the major scowled.

"UNABLE TO COMPLY. MY VISION IS IMPAIRED," the fake Daleks continued to fire, even without sight, their laser fire bursting against the rubble in wild chaos. The Doctor shuddered, they were all too familiar, all too much like the real thing...he would never forgive the man who had created them.
>>
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