Chapter Three

The transmat beam dropped him rather awkwardly right next to what for him was a knee-high bench in the corner of what strongly reminded him of an abandoned London shopfront. He lost his balance as he materialised. If he had been of only average height, this would not have been a problem as he would have just hit himself against it and then regained his balance. But because he was a tall, fine figure of a man, he fell backwards over the bench, to hit his head hard against the wall and end up sprawled in an undignified position, much to the open amusement of the tall, young, blonde-haired woman facing him. He rubbed the sore spot on the back of his head then quickly straightened himself up to a proper sitting position, his hands either side of him, gripping the edge of the bench. Looking at her, he said, with a touch of sarcasm, “Hasn’t anyone ever taught you how to operate a transmat beam properly?”

“No,” she replied, “but then, they didn’t have to – we have technicians specially trained for that purpose and the beam was operated remotely from the Eye.” She paused, before adding, “I hope my staff didn’t cause you too much inconvenience – despite being ‘disembodied voices’!” She had heard the Doctor’s comments as the transmat connection had been opened at the Eye, although, of course, none of the preceding conversation. As the Doctor raised his eyebrows sceptically, his captor laughed briefly, before falling silent and moving away from him slightly. Realising that if he were also silent, she would expound her ideas more than if he plied her with questions and that he would probably manage to escape being physically restrained as well, he refrained from further comment. At least that was the theory.

She had no plans to restrain him, yet – after all, there was no obvious way out of this room and he did not appear to be armed. Besides, she had her own means of protection. But she also was not going to provide him with any information not of her own volition. The Doctor did not know where he had been sent to – by the feel of the transmat field it was still somewhere on the same planet, but how far from the Eye of Orion and the TARDIS, he could not be sure. Somehow, he didn’t think that she was likely to tell him!

She looked at her captive, from a side-on view, trying to determine what his next action was likely to be. At the moment he seemed to not be of any immediate danger to her. However, she knew from past experience of such things that this could change at a moment’s notice. “Probably trying the old ‘dead silence’ trick,” she thought. The idea was that your opponent would not be able to resist the temptation to talk just for the sake of talking to break the silence, with the result that secrets would slip out in the rush to say something. She wouldn’t fall for that one – she had been too well-trained. Whatever his reason for the ‘silent treatment’, it presented her with a golden opportunity to observe her captive at reasonably close quarters.

To her, he seemed to be a bit of a grim type, judging from his expression and mode of dress. “A pity, really,” she thought, “because he is really quite an attractive man, otherwise.” She looked him over, speculatively – rather like she was appraising the humanoid version of a thoroughbred stallion. Good bone structure, great muscles, wiry, no excess fat, latent strength of movement, intense blue eyes, a kissable mouth, probably highly unpredictable motivation. He also appeared to have a strange aura of sadness which was at odds with the rest of his appearance. “Did I think he was quite attractive?” she thought. “I was quite wrong. Drop dead gorgeous would be a far more accurate description!” She was lost in thought for a few moments, imagining what might have been if they had met under other circumstances…..

After a silence that would have lasted, in Earth terms, about half an hour, the Doctor wondered, for a moment, if he had reached a stalemate. No, he would never admit defeat that easily. It was time to change tactics; the direct approach was obviously not going to work, as in his experience all that would elicit from a foe would be lies, excuses or violent objections – sometimes literally, if not from them, then from their minions. The Doctor wasn’t really up to violence at the moment. He had tried the subtle approach – he thought of a very apt Earth expression for it – “give them enough rope and they’ll hang themselves”. No luck there. However, there was an alternative – to use his charm. It had worked for him in previous incarnations, but somehow he was reluctant to use it at this point in time. After the demise of Gallifrey, he didn’t even know if he could be charming any more. However, it needed to be tried – and if he was any judge of character, glancing quickly at his captor, he thought he just might have a receptive subject to try it out on.

The Doctor turned his head to look at her. He looked her straight in the eyes – his intense blue ones to her clear hazel ones. Not intense enough to cause suspicion, just intense enough to catch her attention and hold it. “I’m the Doctor, by the way,” he said, with a slight grin. “What’s your name?” The Doctor had a real objection to being arrested and expected to answer questions when he didn’t know who was asking them. He had also found from past experience that cheerfulness, politeness and courtesy could also set opponents at a disadvantage, because they never expected it from their captives.

She didn’t answer him, but smiled briefly at him, as she moved around to face him again. “Where are you from, Doctor?” she asked. “We registered you arriving near the Eye of Orion, but did not track your arrival in the vicinity of the planet. I assume that the blue box my colleagues arrested you near is your ship?”

The Doctor looked at her speculatively. He decided that, of the questions she asked, the last one was the only one worth answering. “Yes,” he said, “That blue box is my ship.” He paused, before continuing in the deceptively light tone he used to conceal his irritation. “Where are your fun colleagues who so kindly arrested me? I’d particularly like to meet again with the persuasive one with that special touch of warmth. I would very much like to thank him and show him how much fun I really can be.”

“My colleagues are on special duty at the Eye,” she answered.

“I assume that they manage to appear invisible by matching up with local refractive indices?” the Doctor asked – not because he really wanted to know the particular method they used, but because he needed something to buy him time, while he thought out his next move. As he expected, he received no answer from his captor. He was just trying to work out where this woman and her ‘invisible’ henchmen fitted in with the damage at the Eye and the mound of rubble, when she freely made him a present of one part of the jigsaw.

“I am Sergeant Catherine Mere, of Central Orion Protection and Security, Doctor,” she said, crisply and formally.

“Fantastic,” he thought, more than a shade irritably, “I travel for hundreds of years and go through eight regenerations and the destruction of my home planet and countless battles for freedom in remote parts of the universe, to find myself in trouble with the local coppers in Orion, just when I'm trying to resolve a problem for them…..”

(* To be continued….. *)