Cake and the Rani

by Primsong [Reviews - 25]

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  • All Ages
  • None
  • Action/Adventure, General, Humor, Series

3.

The Doctor tried to gather up all of the fuzz-and-crumble covered whatnot that had come from his now non-existent pockets, scooping the best of it together into a bin he'd rather unceremoniously emptied out on the floor. Every movement sent new showers of flaking material drifting to the floor.

Apparently, he noted, that petri-dish powder's microbes consumed cloth fibers. Thankfully, it didn't seem to be doing anything to his skin so it wasn't whatever had eaten that unfortunate animal down to the bones - still, the lack of propriety could potentially get awkward in mixed company.

He pulled open drawers looking for something, anything, that he could use to cover himself. "What is this, the Rani's 'clear plastics only' room?"

Carrying his bin with him, he ducked into an adjoining room where he faced a small hygienic decontamination chamber. He gratefully snatched what turned out to be a somewhat short silk kimono and shrugged it on. Checking the length, he shrugged it back off and wrapped it around his middle instead. Bits of fuzz from what had formerly been his suit were getting everywhere.

"What are you doing?"

He froze in the middle of knotting the sleeves together and looked up to find the Rani standing in the doorway with carefully contained amusement dancing behind her eyes, and an energy gun in her hand. She tilted her head, measuring him up.

"I, um… hullo, Rani. You look lovely. Nice robe you have here. Perfect fit. Regulan silk, isn't it? Ooh, I say, where did you pick up a quality weapon like that?"

She didn't respond to his banter. "You've been into one of my culturing rooms, I see," she said dryly. "And you've regenerated again, haven't you? No, I don't want to know about it," she continued, holding up a hand to stop whatever his response would have been. "As long as it's still you, I don't really care what you look like."

"Thank you… I think. Now look, if…"

"I'll do the talking. You always did have too much to say. I'm just engaging in a little business deal so you don't need to flatter yourself that any of this is personal."

"I see."

"You will. You have fifteen seconds to put your arms behind your back, wrists together, and we'll do this with dignity, or I'll stun you and chain your neck to your ankles after you're out. Which shall it be?"

The Doctor took a breath and then gave her a smile. "You always were the persuasive one." He turned, allowing her to snap cuffs onto his wrists. "Out of curiosity, how did you find me?"

"You left a trail," she smirked.

He looked down at what was left of his trousers as they continued to flake off onto the floor. "Ah."


---

The Doctor moved into the front of the bakery, keeping low to avoid being seen from the front windows. Rows of buns, small cakes and sweet-drizzled breads sat on metal trays instead of in their display case, woven baskets that normally displayed fresh baguettes stood empty. Boxes were scattered about in various stages of being packaged up for shipment. He briefly scanned over some of the labels; yes, the Master was plainly readying to spread this altered product over a much wider area. No surprises there.

He was about to move back to the kitchens when he noticed what looked like a plant-light at one end of the shop, the bluish glow lighting what appeared to be a plastic cube with something inside it.

Humming curiously went to it, examining the cube. It had something inside it that looked very much like a form of fibrous reindeer moss. A black apparatus lay beside it with a slot that was evidently meant to cradle it. "Recharging an organic catalyst?" he wondered. "This doesn't look like the Master's work. I wonder where he got it?"

He gave the apparatus a quick prod, then reaching into his pocket, pulled out a small tool with which he shortly managed to pop out a slender tube from the side of it. Stuffing the tube in his pocket, he inserted a ball-point pen in its place and closed it back up. "Well, that will help for the moment…" Replacing it, he suddenly froze, listening, then crept back around to where he could see the kitchen area.

The Master came out of the large double-level oven that stood to one side and marched straight for the little cube where it lay beneath its light. The Doctor slowly lowered himself behind a stack of boxes and watched through a crack as his adversary plucked up the little cube and inserted it into the apparatus creating something rather like a fishtank-pump-meets-terrarium-meets-gun. Chuckling to himself, he went back into the kitchen and aimed it at a large metal tub of dough in the process of rising, then frowned. Twiddling the cube around, he aimed it at the tub and tried again, then chuckled softly.

"Used up already, is it? Well, no need to tell her that, is there? Not until after this game is done. Ah," he said, lifting his head like a hound that scents its prey. "He's nearby, I can tell. Oh he'll regret the day he went to her to try to hound me. I think I'm really getting the better prize out of this deal, ah yes." He tossed the apparatus in his hands cheerfully and went back into the large double-oven. There was a grinding sound and it faded away.

The Doctor slowly stood, considering this thoughtfully. "Now that was interesting. I wonder who 'she' is?" he wondered aloud. "And what's the prize?"

--

"A deal is a deal."

The Master frowned down at the limp, chained man at his feet. He knew it was the Doctor, but he'd never seen him in this form. The brown hair, for instance, was a bit of a surprise. "Even aside from his being taken from his proper timestream and doubled up to mine, how do I know you haven't already ruined him in some way?"

"Oh come now," the Rani said with impatience.

"Why did you stun him then, if it wasn't to hide something?"

"Because this regeneration of his won't quit talking, as you'll find out soon enough."

"Well, I have to admit that's all too likely. He never was good at holding his tongue, was he? Even with that accounted for, it doesn't explain why you apparently confiscated his clothing."

The Rani put one hand to her hip and held the other out, palm up. "I did my part. I never promised you a particular regeneration, or a particularly well-dressed one. Hand it over."

The Master hesitated. The Rani's eyes narrowed. The Master apparently made a decision and shifted his own stance to bow elegantly, handing the apparatus with its nestled cube into her hands. "But of course. Just as promised."

She snorted and turned back to her own TARDIS, pulling out the cube and holding it up to the light as she did so.

The Master snapped his fingers at the hover sling that held his unconscious and oddly attired prize. It hummed and followed his heels as he stalked back into his own TARDIS. As the doors closed behind him, he heard the sound of the Rani's departure as well and smiled to think he had fooled her with the usability of that weapon.

He reached for his console, glancing down at his new acquisition thoughtfully. "So Doctor, how far ahead in your timestream were you? I do wonder how your already being where I am will affect your sanity, given time?" The Master was unsure if his own would not withstand a similar event.

There was of course, no response. He raised an eyebrow. "Shall we find out?"