Author's Notes:
Tara was first visited by the Fourth Doctor with Romana I during the Key to Time Saga.

Sequel to An Earthly Child

The TARDIS materialized on Mara-5 with it usually vworp vworp sound. She should have materialized on Mara-3, but the TARDIS decided she didn’t want to materialize there.

Inside the Doctor thumped the console.

“What’s wrong, Doctor?” Rose asked curiously. She wasn’t in any hurry to see Mara-3 it sounded rather boring.

“We landed on Mara-5 instead of Mara-3.” He frowned checking the sea of gauges, dials, and little screens that seemed to appear and disappear at random. “I’m sure I set the galactic coordinates correctly. Maybe I should check the connection between the…”

Rose pouted slightly. “Doctor.”

“Hmm?” He’d already started fiddling with on of the panels.

“What’s wrong with Mara-5?” Rose asked.

The Doctor looked over at her. “Nothing really. It’s a bit gaudy. One of the tourist traps of this sector.” He tapped the sonic screwdriver against his lips. “A bit like Vegas, now that I think about it. Vegas with less Tom Jones.”

“Who?” Rose asking, wrinkling her brow.

“Doesn’t know who Tom Jones is, next she’ll be telling me she’s never heard of Ringo Starr,” the Doctor muttered.

Rose folded her arms across her chest. “I’d like to see it.”

“Ringo?” the Doctor asked raising an eyebrow.

“No! Mara-5.” Rose swore he was dense on purpose sometimes just to annoy her.

The Doctor shrugged. “Can’t see any reason why not. Mara-3 is much more interesting though, at least if you catch it at the right point in time. Mara-5 is always a tourist trap. Just rather a smaller or large on depending on the date. Shall we see if it’s large or small?” He held on his hand to her with a grin.

Rose laughed. “Let’s go find out,” she agreed, taking his hand.

“Where are we going?” Ann asked. She leaned against a bit of railing.

The Doctor let go of Rose’s hand and turned around. Rose sighed inwardly and wondered if she looked put out enough the Doctor would make the kid stay on the TARDIS. Rose didn’t mind the kid but this was supposed to be her adventure not Ann’s.

“You aren’t going anywhere, urchin,” the Doctor told Ann. “You’ll be having quite a nice time on the TARDIS. I’m sure you can keep yourself entertained.”

“But–,” Ann protested. “You just said it was just a tourist trap and I know who Tom Jones is, so why can’t I come. Rose gets to go.”

The Doctor paused. “You know who Tom Jones is?”

Ann nodded. “My grandmum’s a fan. She’s thrown her knickers on stage.”

Rose made a face.

“Regardless of the fact it is awesomeriffic that you know who Tom Jones is, you can’t not come. Rose is an experienced traveler and is older than you, though not by much, and because I said so.” The Doctor ticked off the reasons on his fingers.

“Awesomeriffic?” Rose echoed.

The Doctor frowned. “A phrase I have never used before and hopefully never will again.”

“Those are terrible reasons. And it’s not fair!” Ann argued.

“Life isn’t fair and anyone who says otherwise is selling something,” the Doctor told her. “Come on, Rose.”

Ann plopped down on the floor and glared at them both. “The Dread pirate Roberts would let me go,” she moaned.

As they stepped off the TARDIS to be bathed in the neon lights, though the Doctor would later explain that it wasn’t really neon lights but small animals that lived in the tubes, Rose thought she heard the Doctor mutter. “He probably would have.”


The Doctor showed Rose a rather hideous looking shirt with the words: ‘I lost my mind on Mara-5’. He looked quite pleased with himself.

Rose made a face and a noise of disgust. “That hideous. You aren’t buying that are you?”

His face fell. “Oh, do you think so? Hmm. Well, too late now. Already bought it.”

“I don’t want it. It something you’d buy a kid,” Rose complained. “Besides it looks to small for either of us.”

The Doctor shrugged and handed it to Rose. “Maybe it’ll fit the urchin then.”

Rose had to hurry to catch up with him.


Ann started up at the ceiling of her room. So far, being on a ship that could travel through time and space was b-o-r-i-n-g, boring.

She sighed and sat up, swinging her feet on to the floor. They had made two stops so far, neither of which was to take her home. They’d left her on the TARDIS on Mara-5, which even the Doctor said was just a tourist trap. Rose had brought her back a rather ugly t-shirt. ‘Lost my mind on Mara-5’ indeed.

The second place had a name Ann didn’t even try to pronounce. Even though both Rose and the Doctor came back covered in slime, she’d thought they’d had rather more fun that she did stuck on the TARDIS.

There was plenty to do in the TARDIS but she was used to be in a dorm with lots of other children. Even before she started boarding, and her mum had been alive, there were always people around, either sewing costumes or rehearing lines.

Ann wandered into the library and found the Doctor with his nose in a book. “Hello, urchin.”

She rolled her eyes. “Hello, prat.”

“Doctor Prat to you,” he said not looking up.

Ann sat down at the small desk off to one side of the room, the math text and her notebook right where she left them. The desk appeared one day after the Doctor caught her on the floor working out equations, though she thought he might have spotted the book of plays under the math book. He told her she’d ruin the carpet since she wasn’t paper-trained.

“Are you taking me home this time?” Ann asked after several minutes.

The Doctor didn’t look over at her. “No.”

Ann glared at him. “I thought you wanted me off your TARDIS.”

“I’ll take you back when I get around to it. Not rearranging my life for some little urchin.” The Doctor’s tone didn’t change.

“When you plan to get to it then?” Ann demanded.

The Doctor looked at her over his book. “Won’t matter much. Remember we’re traveling through time and space. Can take you back at the exact moment you left. No one will even notice.” Ann figured he thought he sounded comforting.

Ann shut her book. “No one would notice even if you didn’t,” she said under her breath as she stormed out of the room.


“Are we taking her with us this time?” Rose asked the Doctor.

The Doctor shook his head. “She’s an infant, Rose. Well, not by human standards and by Torfan standards she’s middle aged. There is a race of humanoids I met once who counted their lifespan backwards, and one that actually aged backwards, but I don’t think that has any relevance on this.”

Rose frowned, leaning again the rail. There wasn’t much difference between ten and twenty when you figured it like that. “I’d look after her.”

He pinched the bridge of his nose. “Rose, do you remember your mother’s reaction when I brought you home twelve months later instead of twelve hours? Somewhere back on Earth, little Ann Walken has a mummy and daddy and she’s ten, Rose. Ten years old and too curious for her own good.”

“You think I’d let something happen to her?” Rose started at him, shaking her head.

“I do trust you, Rose. Nothing to do with you really.”

“Why haven’t we taken her home then?” Not the first time she’d asked that question lately.

The Doctor turned back to the console panel. “Need to check the stabilizer before we land. She was acting a bit funny last time,” he started to mutter to himself.

Rose really hated when he ended conversations that way.


In her room, Ann felt the TARDIS land. She scrambled down the hall hoping to catch them before they left. Maybe they’d take her this time. She could always hope.

Ann reached the console room in record time. “So, where’d we land this time?” she blurted out as she skidded to a stop. She ran smack into the Doctor while doing so.

“Didn’t anyone ever tell you not to run in the halls?” the Doctor asked, keeping her from falling over. “You could poke an eye out. No, wait, that was running with scissors. I forget why you’re not supposed to run in the halls. Must be a good reason. Why else would schools everywhere have signs about it ——”

“Do you even know where we landed? And where’s Rose?” Ann interrupted, stepping back from him.

“And put up the signs if —— Tara,” the Doctor said. “It’s very rude to interrupt.”

Ann put her hands on her hips. “It’s very rude to change the subject. Where’s Rose?”

He waved vaguely in the direction of the wardrobe and started fiddling with something on the console panel.

“Can I come this time?” Ann asked.

“I’m ready, Doctor!” Rose called, walking into the console room.

The Doctor leveled at finger at Ann. “Not one foot out of the TARDIS until we come back. Hear me, urchin?”

“We won’t be too long,” Rose told her and shot the Doctor a hard look.

“That’s what you said the last time,” Ann muttered.

The Doctor patted Ann’s head. “If you’re a good girl, we’ll let you walk around a bit when we get back,” he teased. “Tara’s a rather nice planet. Horrible fishing though.”

Ann showed her teeth. “Careful, I might have something catching.”

He patted her head again. She snapped her teeth at his fingers and growled.

“Doctor, stop teasing her,” Rose sighed, shaking her head at them both.

The Doctor laughed and led the way out of the TARDIS. “I think you’ll like Tara, Rose.”

“Pretty enough,” Rose agreed looking around.

“Lousy fishing,” he said absently. He never had caught any fish last time he was here. Lost his fishing rod, too, and he’d rather liked that one. Least he was better dressed this trip.

“Why do you keep going on about fishing?” Rose wondered raising an eyebrow.

Why was he? “I rather liked it,” he told her, wondering if he should go back for a fishing rod. He wouldn’t have Romana nagging him about getting on with things this time at least.

The Doctor decided he hated fishing. “Once.”

“I went fishing once when I was little. Fell in a drainage ditch,” Rose said with a laugh.

He grinned slightly. “I’m sure you were pushed. I think one of the castles is just over this ridge. It has some wonderful underground tunnels.”

“Underground tunnels don’t sound very lovely,” Rose said and wrinkled her nose.

The Doctor scoffed. “Haven’t seen an underground tunnel with me,” he grinned.

“Yes, I have.” Rose tugged on his hand. “Doctor.” She suddenly sounded rather upset. “Doctor!”

“Hmm?” he asked, glancing over at her.

Uniformed guards surrounded them. “Well, this is rather familiar,” he muttered. “Out of curiosity do those swords…”

One of the guards brought the sword closer, and he could hear the crackle of energy. “Just checking.” He held up his hands.

“Who are you? What are you doing here?” the guard with the sword under the Doctor’s chin demanded.

“Us? Just wandering through really. New to the area, thought we’d take in the sights.” He smiled widely.

“You are on the private estate of the King and trespassing is not taken lightly. Take them to the castle. The captain will see to them.”

His smile fell. “You see if we bloody well come back here for our next holiday.”

The sword pressed a bit closer to his throat.


“I am Morton, Captain of the Guard. Who are you and what purpose did you have trespassing on the palace grounds.” The uniformed man stood in front of Rose and the Doctor, hands behind his back.

The Doctor smiled widely, leaning against a wall. “As we tried to explain to your friends, we had no idea we were trespassing.”

Morton looked less than convinced. “Your names!”

“Well, don’t have to be rude,” the Doctor said calmly “I’m the Doctor, and this here is Rose Tyler.”

“Who sent you?” Morton demanded. “You might receive some lenience if you give up your masters.”

The Doctor could feel Rose looking at him waiting for him to talk their way out of this mess. “No, idea what your talking about. We’re travelers, stopped by to do a little sightseeing.”

Morton looked at his guard. “Did you find any weapons on them?”

“Not that we could tell, sir. They did have these on them.” The guard handed over Rose’s cell phone and the sonic screwdriver.

“If this is all a matter of trespassing we’ll just pay the fine and be out your hair,” the Doctor said.

Morton turned the objects over in his hands. “Take them to the dungeon. I’ll speak to the Chancellor on this.”

“Isn’t bad as dungeons go,” the Doctor commented. Rose glared at him and he smiled. “It’s not the worst dungeon I’ve been in.”

Rose wasn’t pacified. “It’s a dungeon. Is that a skeleton hanging over there?”

“Add a bit of atmosphere don’t you think?” He didn’t look up from jamming the hairpin into the lock of his cuffs.

Rose peered over. She wondered where he’d found the hairpin. “Is it working?” she asked.

He looked up. “If you’d stop interrupting---”

The door to their cell opened and the head of the guard stepped inside. “Chancellor Grendel would like to have a word with you,” he told the Doctor, unlocking his restraints.

Rose wondered why the Doctor almost seemed curious now. “Doctor.” Rose hissed.

“Don’t worry, Rose. I’ll just have a little chat with this Grendel. Don’t go any where.” He winked at her.

She made a face at him as the guard led him out.


“One hundred and one, one hundred and two, one hundred and three--” Ann stopped mid-count and glared at the door to her right. “No fair! Changing the rooms around when I’m counting. That’s cheating.”

The door changed again. Ann sighed. “I’m bored. Bored, bored, bored.” Her game ruined she wandered into the console room. “Never left me on my own this long before. Probably having a smashing time, forgot all about me.”

Ann taped one of the lights on the on the console panel. “Could take a small peek around. Just to get the lay of it all, just in case they forgot me and all.” The panel in front of her flashed. “Why am I asking you? Only Doctor Prat knows what you go on about.”

TARDIS sparked.

“Not my fault I don’t speak TARDIS,” Ann protested. “I think I will take a look about. Couldn’t hurt any.”

She tried to door cautiously. Last time Ann tried to leave TARDIS with the Doctor told her to stay put; TARDIS gave her a nasty shock. Flinching a bit, Ann pulled.

The doors opened easily. “Oh - well. Thanks, old girl. I’ll just be a bit.”

Night had fallen outside the TARDIS. Ann stepped out careful since she could barely see her feet. She pushed her scarf back over her shoulders and peered around the area. Pretty enough from what she could see.

“Rose?” Ann called walking down what seemed to be a makeshift path. “Doctor?” No one answered, but she hadn’t really expected one.

She pushed on through the trees. “Rose?” Something in the distance howled.

“Doctor?” There seemed to be a castle up ahead. They’d be there, she told herself. Rose would be happy to see her and sorry for worrying Ann. The Doctor, Ann swallowed hard.

The castle looked rather like Leeds with a few more turrets and a good deal more moss, Ann thought, as she grew closer. The dirt path turned into an uneven cobbled stone that ran along the side of the castle.

She rounded a corner, wrinkling Rose’s hat quite badly in her grip. As she passed by a darkened doorway, a hand snaked out grabbing her.

Ann shrieked and a hand went over her mouth.

“Quiet, you want to wake up half the castle?” A woman’s voice asked her in a whisper.

Ann shook her head slowly.

“Goodness, child. What are you wandering about at this hour for? Come inside.” The woman tugged her through the doorway. “Do your parents know where you are?”

They were at the bottom of a staircase and Ann could smell food cooking. The woman looked about her mother’s age. Rather pretty Ann thought, not as pretty as Rose or her mum but rather pretty. Ann could only assume she was human.

“I didn’t know.” Ann said as her voice wavered slightly. “I’m…I’m looking for…my parents. They should have been back for me hours ago. We’re strangers here.”

“Strangers…oh you poor thing.” The woman glanced around them. “Come along, we will sort this out in the morning.”

Ann hesitated. “I should go back, if they come back and don’t find me there--”

“Won’t be coming back for you any time soon, I’ll wager.” The woman took her hand and pulled her towards the castle. “Come on, a nice good hot meal and a nice soft bed. Then we’ll talk.” The woman took her hand leading her through a doorway.

Ann had little choice but to follow. “Thank you.” She said politely the woman tugged her along.

Not long after, Ann sat in the castle kitchen eating her fill of bread and something that tasted like chicken. She hadn’t realized she was so hungry.

“You have a name, do you?” Madame Toema, as she introduced herself as, asked. Toema had wasted no time ordering several servants to fix Ann food.

Ann was getting rather tired of thanking people. “Ann.” She answered after a moments. “Where are the Doctor and Rose, my parents?”

Toema looked away. “That’ll keep, child. You should be a’ bed.”

“Doctor, so nice of you to accept my invitation.” Chancellor Grendel smiled at the Doctor. “Do have a seat.” Behind him on the wall was a portrait.

The Doctor smiled. “Thank you, I think I will. Help my self to a drink? Why thank you, Chancellor so kind.” He poured himself a glass of wine from the bottle on the desk.

The Chancellor laughed. “My men tell me you and your friend, are strangers in this area.”

“They would be telling the truth. We were just passing through, thought we’d see a spot of the scenery before we left.” The Doctor sipped his wine, looking at the portrait. “No idea we were trespassing.”

“Really?” Grendel smiled. “I see you’ve noticed my great-grandfather portrait. The likeness is remarkable is it not?”

“Remarkable. Your great-grandfather was it?” The Doctor set down his glass on the desk.

Grendel nodded. “Count Grendel of Gracht, but I didn’t bring here you to talk about my ancestors. “

The Doctor tutted. “Shame, I love history. Some of the most interesting people in the universe are history.”

“How much do you know about machines, Doctor?” Grendel asked ignoring the Doctor’s comment.

The Doctor was silent.

Grendel leaned across the desk. “I can make the answer worth your time, Doctor.”

“What sort of machines?” the Doctor asked after a moment.


The Doctor sighed. “Ah. Some.”

“You will do the work I require of you then you will be rewarded and give your freedom.” There was nothing pleasant about Grendel’s smile.

“If I don’t?” the Doctor asked crossing is arms. “If I tell you to bugger off?” The tip of a sword pressed under his chin. “Well when you put it that way —— I’ll be thrilled to help you.”

Grendel nodded. “Good, I knew you’d be reasonable Doctor.” He turned to the guard. “Have the young lady fetched, and show them to their room.”

“And we were just starting to settle into the dungeons,” the Doctor said in disappointment.


“You found her wandering about outside the castle?”

Toema nodded. “Yes, she claims to have been looking for her parents.”

“You believe her, Toema?”

“I do. They must be the man and woman captured earlier today,” Toema explained.

“Bring her to see me in the morning. Perhaps her father, this doctor, can help us.”

Toema curtsied low. “As you wish your majesty.”

“Sleep well, Rose?” the Doctor asked, with more brightness than anyone should be so early in the morning.

“So you help this Chancellor with his robot and we’re free, right?” Rose asked the Doctor. She sat in on the chairs in the rooms they’d been assigned. “Seems too easy.”

He nodded, turning the sonic screwdriver over his knuckles. “Android though, Rose, not a robot. And yes, it is too easy.”

“What the difference?” Rose asked.

“Rose, asked me again when we’re back on the TARDIS and I’ll be happy to tell you.” The Doctor rubbed the bridge of his nose. “I detest Taran politics. Last time it was androids too.”

Rose sighed and put her elbows on her knees. “Yes, lovely planet.” She rolled her eyes. “Next you’ll be telling me you’ve meet the Chancellor before too.”

“As it turns out, yes,” the Doctor told her.

She opened her mouth to ask more when Captain Morton entered the room. “Oi! You could have knocked.”

“Doctor, the Chancellor requests your presence.” Morton gestured to the door. “Your lady has been invited to lunch with Queen Astrella. An escort for her will arrive shortly.”

Rose opened her mouth to protest.

The Doctor smiled. “You see, Rose, you won’t be bored at all.”

Rose contemplated strangling him. She rather hated the Doctor some days. He was just lucky she loved him.


“But why is the Queen interested in the Do —— my father, Toema?” Ann asked taking three steps to keep up with on of Toema strides. “He has doesn’t anything wrong, has he?”

Toema shook her head. “No, he hasn’t done anything wrong, yet. Queen Astrella simply wishes to learn about the Chancellor’s new guest.” She smiled at Ann. “It will be fine, I promise. Her Majesty is very kind.”

Ann played with the sleeves of the dress they’d given her to wear. “When will I see them? Do they know I’m in the castle? Why ——”

“So many questions, child.” Toema stopped abruptly and shook her finger at Ann. “You’d be better served by speaking less and listening more.”

She blinked taken aback for a moment. Did she ask too many questions? Slowly she nodded. “Yes, Toema.”

Toema smiled and took her hand. “You’ll be fine, just be truthful as you can.”

Ann nodded and wondered just how truthful she could be in this case. She didn’t have long to think before Toema showed her into the Queen’s drawing room.

“Your majesty, may I present Lady Ann, daughter of The Doctor and Lady Rose,” Toema announced with a curtsy.

Nervously, Ann dipped into curtsy. She silently thanked Alice for making her learn when Ann was still young enough to trail after her mother during rehearsals. “Your Majesty.”

“Rise, Lady Ann. We welcome you.” The Queen’s voice did sound kind.

Ann rose up from the curtsy. She thought the Queen looked pretty, not as pretty as her mum though.

The Queen sat in a chair near the window. She patted the chair next to her. “Come sit with me, Ann. We have much to speak of.”

Ann put on a smile and sat down. She came from a long line of actresses. She could do this.

If Rose expected anything when she was shown in to ‘dine’ with the Queen, it wasn’t to see Ann.

“R–Mum!” Ann cried in faux delight running over to Rose. She threw her arms about Rose hugging her.

Rose hugged her back. “Mum? What’s wrong with you?” she whispered. “Ann! I thought we told you to stay put.”

“Told them you and the Doctor were my parents. Go along,” Ann whispered back. “Mum, I was so worried when you and Da didn’t come back last night.”

“There was a bit of a misunderstanding, but it’s all worked out now,” Rose assured her.

Ann shot her a questioning look. “Mum, this Her Majesty Queen Astrella of Tara. She’s taken me under her protection, I’m very grateful.”

Rose wondered why Ann was being so agreeable as she curtsied to the Queen. “Thank you, your Majesty.”

“Lady Rose, we welcome you.” The Queen smiled and gestured to a chair. “Do sit, food will be served in a moment and we have much to talk about.”

Ann nodded encouragingly and took a seat at the table. Rose hesitated a moment before sitting down. “Do we, your majesty?”

Astrella smiled. “Ann was telling me about her father, the Doctor.”

Rose looked sharply at the ten-year old. “Has she?” She kicked the girl under the table.

Ann glared and kicked back. “I was telling the queen about da being a scientist and a doctor.”

“It was quite fascinating.” Astrella nodded and reached out to cover Rose’s hand with her own. “Do tell me, my dear, does the Doctor know anything about androids?”


“The Doctor isn’t going to be happy.”

The Doctor looked up from the gadget he held in his hand as Rose’s voice reached his ears. A moment later, Rose entered their quarters with Ann trailing behind her. He looked back at what was in his hands. “How did lunch with the Queen go? You know its fascinating how little technology has evolved since I was last here. Not to mention the way they run things, you’d think a social revolution would have occurred by now.”

“It would have gone better if Rose knew what androids were,” Ann said, standing on her tiptoes to see what the Doctor was doing.

He looked at her and frowned. “I told you to stay in the TARDIS. I’m rather sure we had a complete conversation about it, in which we agreed you should stay put.”

Ann peered at the gears and circuits. “No, you agreed, I ignored you.”

“Doctor, don’t you want to know what the Queen wanted?” Rose asked her hands’ on her hips.

“This isn’t some sort of game, Ann. I told you to stay on the TARDIS. Do you know how to deal with alien worlds?” His face was inches from Ann’s.

She swallowed hard. “But I,” she started.

“You haven’t told anyone about the TARDIS, have you?” The Doctor frowned deeply at her.

Ann stepped back. “I didn’t tell anyone about the TARDIS, or about anything else other than to make the Queen think highly of you since I thought you were both in the dungeon.”

“You STILL shouldn’t have left the TARDIS!” He said harshly, looking away from her.

“You didn’t come back.” Ann whispered. “You didn’t come back. You and Rose never have taken so long to come back.”

The Doctor paused and slumped. He reached out a hand to put on her shoulder. “Ann.”

She shook off his hand. “And the TARDIS let me out, she never would have done that if it was more dangerous than I could handle. I know she wouldn’t have.”

Rose touched Ann’s shoulder. She didn’t look annoyed at the girl like she had a few moments ago. In fact she looked rather, the Doctor tried to place the expression but couldn’t.

“What if you never came back? What am I supposed to do if you go and never come back?” Ann demanded. Her eyes were wet.

“Of course we’d come back. We always get back to the TARDIS,” Rose told her with a certainty that made the Doctor wince.

The Doctor played with his tie, not sure where to look.

Ann shook her head. “You can’t promise that.”

Rose looked at the Doctor. “Say something,” she mouthed at him.

He knelt down and placed a hand on Ann’s shoulder. “You’re right, no one can promise that.”

Ann bit her lip and just looked at him.

The Doctor stood and went back to the table. He picked up the gadget. “Come look at this, Ann.” He watched the ginger-haired girl detach herself from Rose’s skirt.

“What is it?” she asked standing on her tiptoes to see better.

“It part of the brain circuitry for an android. Controls the mannerisms of it. Set this right and you can have the android imitate anyone,” the Doctor told her. “Romana, think you can find us some tea?”

“What did you call me?” Rose asked.

“Now this set of gears controls - hmm?” He looked over at her.

“You called her the wrong name, Doctor,” Ann whispered.

He frowned. Had he? “I called you Rose, that’s your name isn’t it? Or have you changed it? I know how fond you humans are of changing things, but you could least tell me first.”

Rose threw her arms up. “Fine, I’ll find you some tea.”

“What wrong with her?” he mused.

Ann shrugged, pulling on the table to lever herself up. “I don’t know. She was complaining early about her dress not being as pretty as mine or something.”

The Doctor picked her up setting her on his knee. “Pay attention Ann, you never know when knowing the innards of an Android could come in handy.”


The Doctor bowed to the worried looking woman. “You wished to speak to me Queen Astrella?”

Astrella nodded, and gestured to a chair. “Please sit, Doctor. I asked you hear to speak to you on a delicate matter. I believe from talking with Lady Rose and you’re …daughter that I can trust you.”

“I hope I can be of assistance, your majesty.” The Doctor sat in a chair near the Queen.

“Doctor, I fear that my husband may be in grave danger.” Astrella folded her hands together and looking pleadingly at the Doctor.

The Doctor titled his head. “You fear the Chancellor may be planning to replace him with an android?”

“Yes, I — how did you know, Doctor?” the Queen asked looking startled.

“I can help you, Queen Astrella, but you must let me do this my own way. Will you do that?” the Doctor asked.

The Queen after a moment nodded. “I will.”

He nodded to the Queen and stood. “With your leave your majesty I will return to my room.”

Astrella nodded. “Yes, please have a pleasant sleep.”

The Doctor had reached the door when the Queen spoke again. “The child, Ann?”

He turned back tensed. “Your Majesty?”

“You and Lady Rose are not her parents, are you?" Astrella asked quietly.

The Doctor smiled broadly. “Mine by a past marriage. You know how these things go, figured she needed a mum so I married again.”

The Queen nodded. “Ah, I see.


Grendel drummed his fingers on the desk. “Doctor, I tire of your consent delays. Is the android finished?”

“I’ve done what I can, if I had better tools…” The Doctor leaned against the fireplace mantel, studying the portrait of Grendel’s ancestor.

“So it is complete.” Grendel almost giggled with glee. “Excellent.”

The Doctor angled his head to the side studying something. “You do realize the Queen might not be so easily fooled.”

Grendel snorted and waved his hand. “It isn’t her that the android needs to fool. If the Queen causes problems that can be easily taken care of.”

“Then you have no need to keep me or my companions any longer. If you don’t mind we have a great many things to see and places to do,” the Doctor said smiling.

“I don’t think you’ll be leaving quite yet, Doctor. Wouldn’t do for the android to break down at some inopportune moment.” Grendel leaned back in his chair his finger steepled.

“If you think I’m going to stay and take further part in this, your--.”

Grendel smiled evenly. “It would be a terrible shame if something happened to the fair Lady Rose, but we live in such dangerous times. And who knows when illness will strike a child Ann’s age down.”

Blue eyes darkened and the Doctor’s hand curled into a fist. “Be careful Grendel. I don’t have the mercy I once had.”

“How odd, Doctor. Neither do I.” Grendel’s smile never faulted. “We’ll unveil the android king tomorrow at court.”

The Doctor turned towards the door.

“And Doctor?”

He didn’t turn back, keeping his back to Grendel. “You and your little — family, will join myself and their Royal Highnesses tonight at dinner.”

The Doctor turned back then. He smiled and dipped his head. “Tonight then, Count Grendel.”

Whatever reply the Chancellor had was lost as the Doctor shut the door behind him.

Rose found the Doctor and Ann talking softly when she entered their rooms. The Doctor had crotched down to Ann’s level. Rose crossed her arms and waited for one of them to notice her.

Ann nodded at something the Doctor said and smiled brightly. He grinned back at her and ruffled her hair. Rose shifted uncomfortable and darted her eyes away. Rose cleared her throat and looked back.

The Doctor pressed a pieced of paper into Ann’s hand and stood up. “There you are, Rose. Was wondering where you got off to. Find any nice underground tunnels?”

Rose rolled her eyes and watched Ann dart out of the room. “Where she going in a hurry?”

“Hmm?” The Doctor had been watching Ann go with a slight frown. “Oh the urchin? Off to find a new dress I think.”

“A new dress?” Rose blinked once, and then blinked again. “A new dress?” she repeated, but it didn’t make any more sense the second time.

The Doctor grinned. “Well, we have to look our best for dinner tonight. Not every night you have dinner with royalty.”

“Expect when you’ve eaten with Queen Victoria just a few days ago!” Rose laughed.


Ann hurried through the halls as quickly as she could in her dress. She had new respect for her mother who’d dashed about in full costume without trouble. It was all Ann could do to keep from falling in her face. Her scarf had been easier to mange.

“Why do there have to be so many halls in this place?” Ann wondered aloud. She held the note in her hand tighter the paper crunching.

She rounded a corner and ran straight into Madame Toema. “Goodness child, why are you dashing around as if the guard is on your heels?” She glanced behind the girl to make sure the guard wasn’t on Ann’s heels.

“Looking for you,” Ann told her and grabbing both of Toema’s hands. She pressed the note to Toema smiling widely. “Rose insists I have a new dress for tonight but if I let her pick for me I’ll be in something horrid. I just know it.”

Madame Toema laughed. “You wouldn’t be the first child to run from the dress choices of a step-mother. You just leave things to me, little Ann.”

Ann skipped into the room and twirled about. “Well?” She looked rather smug.

The Doctor smiled almost fondly at Ann. “Very nice. The colors suit you.”

“Madame Toema was quite agreeable,” Ann told him.

Rose crossed her arms. “I could have gone you know.” She smoothed her dress again.

“You don’t even know my size, or Madame Toema,” Ann pointed out.

“Still, I could have gone. She’s a kid,” Rose argued. “What if someone had —?”

Ann bit her lip and took Rose’s hand. “You dress is really pretty. You look like someone from one of those grand historical movies.”

Rose looked at her reflection again. “You think so?”

Ann nodded. “The theater my mum worked in had a purchased a few. You could be some grand lady or princess.”

“You hair is pretty up in ringlets,” Rose said, smoothing back a stray hair from Ann’s eyes.

“If you two are done with the fashion show, I believe it’s time for the dinner show,” the Doctor said clearing his throat behind them.

Ann giggled. “He’s just jealous because he doesn’t have any new clothes.”

“Plus were much prettier than him.” Rose laughed.

“Yes, yes very funny.” He shooed them out the door. He glanced quickly at the mirror and smoothed down his own hair. “I’m still the prettiest.” He flashed himself a grin.


As soon as the Doctor had finished speaking, a loud ‘fsst!’ was heard from the King. Sparks flew up from the back of his head and the man flew forward over his plate.

Queen Astrella gasped. “He’s an android!”

Grendel applauded. “Very clever, Doctor. I should have known you’d build in a fail-safe like that. Now,” He grabbed the Queen’s arm and held a dagger under her chin. “You will fix him.”

The Doctor rose to his feet and put his hands behind his back. “No.”

Rose, who’d jumped up with the sparks flew started at the Doctor across the table. Ann edged away from the table, making at gestures at Rose. Rose stayed where she was.

“No?” Grendel seemed a bit perplexed by this. “If you do not, I’m afraid harm will befall the fair Queen.”

“Why should I care about that? I have no interest in Taran politics. I told you that once before.” The Doctor said coolly.

For a moment, the two men stared at each other. Then Grendel smiled. “Ah yes, I should have remembered what really gets your attention.” He pushed away Astrella and grabbed Rose by the hair as she tried to move away. “Going somewhere my lady?”

“Grendel,” the Doctor said sharply, not taking his eyes off Grendel.

“Sorry, Doctor.” Rose gave him a brave looking smile.

“I do wonder Doctor how you received such a stunning face lift, and whatever became of the fair Romana. She was quite useful in getting your attention during our last little game.” Grendel tapped the blade against Rose’s throat. “Though she seems to do the trick quite nicely.”

The Doctor tensed then smiled showing all his teeth. “Let her go, Grendel. This is your only chance.”

Grendel laughed. “Let her go? No, I think I’ll hang on to this pretty prize until you’ve fixed the android king. You’re not ruining my plans again.”

Rose frowned. “Again?”

“The Doctor has an annoying habit of stopping me from claiming what is rightful mine,” Grendel snarled.

“The throne of Tara is hardly rightful yours.” The Doctor cocked his head to one side. “I am curious about just one thing.”

“Only one thing?” Rose sounded a bit put out.

Grendel yanked her hair to shut her up. “What would that be Doctor?”

Ann ignored the adults and hurried over to the bucket by the fireplace. It was full of water just as the note she’d passed to Toema had instructed. Ann had a feeling she knew what the Doctor was up to, but hadn’t thought she’d be doing all the heavy lifting.

As she struggled to drag, the bucket along a second set of hands joined hers. Queen Astrella smiled a little. Ann smiled back and together they moved quietly up behind Grendel.

“How have you lived this long without aging? You look just as you did when I saw you last,” The Doctor said, smiling just a bit.

Grendel chuckled. “Really Doctor, I would think you’d have guessed the answer to that by now.” He held the dagger loosely at Rose’s through.

“Just want a confirmation of my suspicions,” the Doctor said evenly.

“Before she died Madame Lamia created on finally masterpieces of craftsmanship. Me. Satisfied, Doctor?” Grendel asked.

“Quite. Now, Ann.” The Doctor nodded.

Ann and Astrella threw the water over the android chancellor and Rose. Rose shrieked as the cold water hit her. Grendel — Grendel made an odd grabbled noise. He managed to turn and stare at Ann and Astrella in disbelief then back at the Doctor.

“It’s not possible,” were the final words of the android before he collapsed in a shower of sparks.

“I warned you I didn’t have the mercy I once had.” The Doctor said to the motionless Grendel.

“Someone could have warned me!” Rose complained, shivering in her wet clothes.

The Doctor handed Rose his jacket and looked almost sadly at Grendel. “He was a masterpiece of craftsmanship.” He glanced at Ann. “Well done.”

“I felt kind of sorry for him. I don’t think he even knew why he wanted the throne,” Ann said, after a moment.

“I don’t think he did,” the Doctor agreed.

Astrella surveyed the bodies of the android king and chancellor. “Doctor, if this was the android where is my husband, the king?”

The Doctor opened his mouth then closed it. “Now that’s an excellent question. Let’s see if we can’t find out, shall we?”


The King was in the dungeon a little worse for wear but other wise fine. In gratitude, Astrella and the King tried to make the Doctor Chancellor. He politely but firmly refused.

“I wish that dress hadn’t been ruined,” Rose sighed, as the entered the TARDIS.

Ann snickered and pet the console as she walked by. “Sorry I took so long to find them.” She told the TARDIS.

Rose gave her a funny look as the Doctor started murmuring to the TARDIS as he turned a knob there and flipped a switch there.

“What?” Ann shrugged. “You don’t think she gets worried too? I’m going to go change. It’s a pretty dress and all but it really hard to run in.”

Rose raised an eyebrow and shook her head. “Doctor?” she asked as soon as she was sure Ann was out of earshot. “Who’s Romana?”

The Doctor’s jaw twitched. “What was that, Rose?” he asked in an overly bright tone. He’s hands were still flying across the dials, cranks and switches.

“I said, ‘where to next, Doctor’?” Rose said, after a moment.

The Doctor looked up and smiled. “It’s a surprise.”