Part 5: Out of the Dark by Soldeed

Summary: Jasmine is gone. But with a new companion at his side and the Master at his back, the Doctor may yet have the chance of a happy ending.
Rating: All Ages
Categories: Other Doctors
Characters: The Doctor (WebCast 9th)
Genres: Action/Adventure
Warnings: None
Challenges: None
Series: The Road to Shalka
Published: 2006.07.11
Updated: 2006.07.29

Part 5: Out of the Dark by Soldeed
Chapter 1: Chapter 1
Author's Notes: This story is set after the events of Scream of the Shalka. For those who haven't seen it, all you need to know is that it begins with the Doctor having spent a long, lonely time wandering the universe with no company but the Master, now confined to a robotic body. During the story, though, he meets new companion Alison Cheney, and things may at last be getting better...

Jenny hated this job.

"Maidservant to his lordship!" her mother had enthused. "No breaking your back in the farmyard for you, my girl. Good money, pretty clothes and nothing to do all day except dust a few nick-nacks. You'd be mad to turn it down."

Jenny dragged up at the handles of the tin bucket she had just filled with clinker scraped from the fireplace, only to set it down with a gasp at the sensation of something in her back stretching in a way it really wasn't designed to do.

"Thanks, mum," she muttered, and shifted in search of a more effective lifting stance.

She was nineteen but her tired eyes and narrow features made her look older. Loose strands of dark hair escaped the knot at the back of her head and hung lifelessly over a face that was beginning to gleam with perspiration as she worked. Finally she started to make some progress with the bucket by stretching up with her legs inelegantly positioned on either side and waddling a few paces at a time before being forced to set it down. The breathy moan of the wind twisting its way down the chimney sent a shiver through her bone marrow and hurried her on her way towards the hall.

This reminded her that she was being ungrateful as usual. She should be glad to be hemmed in by the thick stone walls of the old house, with its cramped rooms, low ceilings and heavy velvet drapes that stored up warmth like a baker's oven. She could hear the gathering storm scraping like claws at the bolted shutters, rattling the old sash windows in their settings, the rain hammering down. This would be no night to be sheltering in her parents' draughty little cottage. They would be there now, in bed since sundown, wrapped in their thin blankets, huddled together for warmth.

Jenny struggled out into the hall and turned her back on the main doors. It would be considered inappropriate to be seen by her employers in the act of performing her domestic duties, so best to risk her back and make the quickest possible dash across to the discreet little door which would take her out of the family area and into the bare, unwelcoming, but safe surroundings of the servants' stairway. She was beginning the fastest stagger she could manage when she clenched her teeth at a booming metallic crash that resounded around the house.

She dropped the bucket on her foot and bit down on the first syllable of a curse which would have been a sacking offence. She turned to stare at the front door.

Visitors? Now? At this time of night and in this weather? She shook her head in exasperation. She would never understand rich people.

She looked down at the bucket, standing ostentatiously in the middle of the floor. It would be bad to leave it there, but it would also be bad to keep visitors waiting, especially at this time of night and in this weather, and nobody else would be coming along to open that door for her. She pondered the dilemma for a moment before realising that in every second she wasted pondering the chance of someone coming along and spotting the bucket increased, and the visitors would only be getting colder and more ill tempered. She straightened her plain black and white uniform and hurried over to the door, adopting the bright but humble look that had won her this job in the first place.

The heavy iron bolts were like something from a prison, or a fortress, but slid aside easily in their greased fittings, and then Jenny was fighting to hold the doors back as the wind rushed in, tearing at her face, whipping at her hair. Half blinded by flying rain, she could make out on the doorstep two grey cloaked and hooded figures, one tall and one short, picked out against the blackness of the night by the dull yellow light of the hall's flickering gas lamps. They were standing with their backs to her, but when they turned her mouth fell loosely open.

The tall one was like a villain from a storybook. His skin coldly pale, his features razorblade sharp, his dark eyebrows arched, his lips pursed contemptuously. And then there was the short one. Its skin was the colour of burnt wood, like nothing she had ever seen, so dark she could barely make out its features, and its eyes alone glared at her whitely from the shadow of its hood. With a shriek of absolute horror, Jenny turned and ran, sprinted the length of the hall and vanished through the first door she blundered into.

The two figures stood and watched her go. The Doctor looked down at Alison.

"Now see what you've done."

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.

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