Methos had lived many lives over the millennia. He’d been both a scholar and a slave, a killer and a healer, a thief and a judge. He’d even been a monk at one time… although that
had ended with a splash.
But none of those lives had prepared him for his strangest challenge yet.
That of being a companion.
“Just turn the knobbly thing to the left when I say so,” The Doctor hollered, one leg up on the console as he dangled from the cables that hung from the Tardis’s ceiling.
The Tardis reeled and Methos went flying through the air and skidded along the floor, his head meeting the wall with a resounding thump. Gingerly, he levered himself onto his elbows and eyed the console platform. Sparks danced around the controls, casting shadows across the room, and Methos quickly closed his eyes and let his head fall back onto the floor.
It didn’t help; he didn’t think anything would erase the freakish image of a twenty-foot shadow doctor attached to tentacle-like strings.
“What are you doing over there?” The Doctor asked irritably, glancing up from the tangle of wires he’d had his nose buried in.
“I’m taking a little nap. What does it look like I’m doing?” he threw back, trying to put some bite into the retort. It didn’t work; he was just too bloody tired.
“I swear, you Immortals,” the Doctor proclaimed, waving his sonic thing-gummy in the air. “A little dimensional turbulence and you go all wobbly at the knees.”
Methos counted to ten and slowly got to his feet. He was beginning to feel like Shrodinger’s cat. Was he alive? Was he insane? Was he hurtling through space and time in a blue wooden box?
Tune in and find out if the old man had finally lost it.
Methos shook his head, wincing as it immediately began to throb. It would be another few minutes before he was completely recovered, but he didn’t have another few minutes. He stumbled towards the console and staggered up the steps, hanging onto the rails as the Tardis shuddered. The smell of hot metal tainted the air and a tut of concern came from above.
“The poor old girl can’t take much more of this,” the Doctor said, worry evident in his tone as he glanced downwards. “Ready?”
Methos shrugged. “As I’ll ever be.” “Now.”
Muttering a brief prayer to the Gods under his breath, Methos turned the dial. A hollow moan shuddered through the hull and, suddenly, the Tardis seemed to give a sigh of relief.
“Why did you rescue me?” Methos asked abruptly, as the Doctor grinned and landed lightly on the platform. “They were hundreds of people running for their lives, why me?”
The Doctor’s grin widened as he clapped him on the shoulder. “Because you, my friend, said the immortal words.”
Methos groaned at the pun. “And which words were those? Get me out of here?”
“Actually, it was more along the lines of ‘and whose bright idea was it to let loose an army of psychotic peppershakers in London.’” The Doctor smirked. “Want to find out?”
Methos eyed the Doctor suspiciously as his eyes became unfocused. “Hello, Earth to Doctor?”
“This isn’t normal, you know,” the Doctor murmured, ignoring the hand Methos waved in front of his face.
“Is that so,” Methos drawled. “And what exactly does
pass for normal around here?”
“Huh?” the Doctor blinked and looked at him thoughtfully. “Oh, you know, certain death, strange adventures, that sort of thing,” he said.
“Glad you cleared that up then, I can so
see the difference.”
He grinned. “That was sarcasm wasn’t it? You’re quite good at it. Must be all the practice you’ve had.”
Methos raised an eyebrow. “Which reminds me, how exactly did you know I was an immortal? It’s not exactly on my passport.”
“Oh, that was easy,” the Doctor said, shrugging. “You told me.”
“I see...and when did I do that, exactly?”
“Sixteenth century, little pub down by the docks in Bristol, you in your cups and using a different name, me sporting a long, stripy scarf and a different face – ring any bells?”
“Huh, really?” the Doctor asked, a frown of puzzlement appearing on his face. “I usually make an impression, must have been all the grog. Oh well, never mind. Where was I again? Ah yes; this isn’t normal, you know.”
Methos groaned as the Doctor started bouncing on the balls of his feet. He suddenly had a strange feeling he knew how this conversation was going to go. “And why isn’t it normal?” he asked, giving in.
The Daleks are extinct in this Dimension.”
“And what are the Daleks?” he asked patiently.
“The psychotic peppershakers.”
“Ah indeed, who knew that taking off my tie would become so complicated?” Methos gritted his teeth, refusing to take the bait, and the Doctor wilted slightly. “Oh well, nothing for it, I suppose. We’ll have to take a little detour – hold on!”
Methos quickly snatched at the railings as the Doctor twiddled at the controls, holding his breath as the Tardis started making a strange, rhythmic, sound. “Where are you taking us?” he asked grimly.
“Not really sure,” he said cheerfully. “Sometimes, you have to go with the flow.” The Tardis fell silent and the Doctor rubbed his hands together. “Let’s find out where we are, shall we?” he said as he half walked, half bounced, to the door and flung it open. “Oh, this I wasn’t
Curious despite himself, Methos peered over the shoulder. “Dear Gods!"
“What do you reckon, first century BCE or CE?” the Doctor asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Definitely BCE,” Methos murmured, pointing at the roof of a distant temple. “That didn’t make it to the common era.”
“Handy, aren’t you?” the Doctor observed. “So…where should we start?”
The Doctor sighed. “If you were a psychotic peppershaker, bent on destroying the world, where would you be?”
Methos shrugged. “Well, you know what they say. When in Rome—”
“Do as the Romans do,” the Doctor finished for him. “That doesn’t help much, you know. They were exactly two things the Romans were good at. Building roads and invading…aaaaaah
.” He grinned. “Brilliant! Lets go.”
“The Coliseum of course, where else!”
“Do we have to? I don’t exactly have fond memories of the place.”
“Ah, watched one to many gladiator fights, did we?”
“Actually, it was more along the lines of being in
one too many Gladiator fights,” Methos admitted.
The Doctor paused “Not exactly the smartest career choice.”
“Who said anything about choice?”
The spectators leapt to their feet with a roar, circling Methos in a ring of waving arms as he sat firmly on the stone step. “I don’t believe you talked me into this,” he muttered as a sea of flowers passed over his head and into the arena below.
“Oh come on! What’s not to like?” the Doctor asked, taking a deep breath. “Can you smell that? That’s the sweet aroma of testosterone in the air.”
“It’s two people, trapped in a pit, being forced to kill each other,” Methos pointed out flatly. “There isn’t anything remotely entertaining about it.”
“You’ve got a point,” he said, snatching a rose from the air. “But there’s nothing we can do about it, I’m afraid. It’s part of history…huh, that’s funny.” Threading the rose through his buttonhole, the Doctor gazed into the distance.
Methos sighed wearily. He’d known the Time Lord for less than a day and he could already recognise that tone. “Come on, spit it out, I know you want to.”
“Nah, it’s probably nothing,” the doctor muttered. “Except…well…it probably wouldn’t hurt to check it out, would it?” A grin flashed across his face. “Come on, let’s go!”
Methos eyed the hand that was suddenly thrust at his face. “Gee, Dad, I think I can cross the road by myself,” he drawled, getting to his feet.
With a swirl of his coat, the Doctor darted through the crowd and Methos hurried to catch up. “Maybe I should have held his hand, after all,”
he thought irritably as he reached the archway the Doctor had gone through. The stairwell was pitch black, and Methos blinked to readjust his eyes. “Doctor?”
“Over here,” a voice whispered, and Methos peered into the shadows.
“Why are you whispering?” he asked in a low voice as he made out the Time Lord’s outline against the wall
“We’re not alone,” he said softly, putting a finger to his lips as he pointed down the stairs.
Methos followed his gaze, his eyes narrowing as she saw a faint glint of metal below them. “Is that—”
The Doctor nodded, his face suddenly grim. “My guess is they’re looking for new genetic material for their drones, and who better to supply it than the finest warriors in Rome?”
“Genetic material? What are they doing, swabbing them for their DNA?”
“More like a blood sample.”
Methos sighed “Let me guess, we’re not talking about a nice, clean syringe, are we?
“Not really,” the Doctor said tersely. “Follow me, and be quiet.
The last thing we need is your nattering tipping them off.”
Methos glared mutinously as the Doctor pulled out his sonic screwdriver and slowly crept down the steps. Tempting as it was to walk away and leave the annoying alien to deal with the killer robots all by himself, the Doctor was his only ticket out of this century…and besides, irritating though he undoubtedly was, he had
saved his life. Muttering under his breath, Methos followed him down the steps.
A high-pitched, nasal voice filled the air, and the Doctor froze mid step. “The mission is almost complete, once the games are over, we shall move to the final phase.”
“Affirmative, the Emperor shall be pleased.”
A faint whir filled the air, and Methos watched as the two Daleks flew down the stairs.
“You know, back in the old days, they stayed dead when you killed them,” the Doctor muttered, anger showing in his voice. “That bloody Dalek has more lives than a Time Lord.”
“Maybe he took a genetic sampling,” Methos said, sarcasm dripping from his voice.
The doctor’s face fell still, his shadowed face becoming harsh and forbidding. “That wasn’t funny.”
Methos had the uneasy feeling he stepped on a painful subject. “Is there something you haven’t told me.?”
“Oh, there’s plenty I haven’t told you but as you don’t exactly have a century to spare… actually, that’s not true, is it?” A small smile appeared on his lips, softening his face. “Do you realise how rarely I meet someone who’s actually older
Methos smirked. “Not as much of a rarity as it is for me,
I’ll bet,” he shot back.
“Oh, there are a few – none on Earth of course, but nevertheless...” he smirked. “Come on, let’s go save the world.”
“I don’t suppose you’ve met the Highlander, have you?” Methos asked rhetorically as they crept down the steps.
“Which one, Conor or Duncan?”
Methos groaned, he should have known. “Duncan.”
“Early twentieth century, Scotland, played nine holes with him and a chap called Fitz, Nice golf course.”
“But of course,” Methos muttered.
The doctor stopped, raising a hand. “We’re here.”
Methos glanced over his shoulder, raising an eyebrow as he looked at the blank stone wall in front of them. “Looks like a dead end to me.”
The Doctor grinned, the sonic screwdriver in his hand coming to life. “Watch!” The wall clicked and a hidden door slid open, revealing a brightly lit flight of metallic steps. “The Daleks always had a thing for secret, underground lairs. Let’s go.”
“Hold on a minute,” Methos protested. “Are you seriously suggesting we go down there? They’ll make mince meat out of us!”
“You’re armed, aren’t you?”
“I’ve got a sword, they’ve got laser weapons that can vaporize a human at thirty paces, do the math!”
“What’s life without a little adventure?”
“You know what?” Methos said. “I’ve changed my mind. I think I prefer the arena after all.”
The Doctor grinned. “Ah, but where’s the fun in that?” he said. “This is much
Methos threw him a disbelieving look. “In case it has escaped your notice, we’re completely surrounded
The doctor shrugged, a feat more difficult than it sounds, considering they both had their hands in the air. “Look on the bright side; at least we’ve found their secret lair.” “You will be silent!”
“Yes, he does go on, doesn’t he?” the Doctor said conversationally. “I keep telling him—” “Silence, or you will be exterminated.”
“Oh, well, that’s told me, hasn’t it?”
“Will you please
shut up,” Methos hissed out of the corner of his mouth.
“Relax, they can’t kill us yet,” the Time Lord drawled. “Not until the high muckity-muck has had a chance to gloat over me – isn’t that right?” “The Emperor is God!”
the Daleks shrieked in unison.
“See what I mean?” the Doctor sighed. “So where is the Emperor, then; hiding in the shadows? Not very Godlike of him, is it?”
The circle of Daleks drew tighter, leaving them even less room to manoeuvre in. “Um, Doctor, maybe it’s not a good idea to goad the evil robots with laser guns.”
“You know, maybe it’s just me, but I always thought those things looked rather silly,” the Doctor plunged on. “But what can you expect when you’re working with a second rate God?”
“ The Emperor is God, the Emperor is all powerful, you shall not mock the Emperor.”
“Where is he then?” the Doctor asked amiably. “Popped out for a bit of lunch, has he?” “Soon the gateway shall be ready, and the Emperor will come - and you shall be exterminated!”
“They really don’t like you, do they? Methos observed.
“Yes, well, I did destroy their entire civilisation,” he said, shrugging. “People tend to take that kind of thing personally.”
“Indeed,” Methos said dryly. “I don’t suppose you have a plan, by any chance?”
“No, not really,” he said. “But let’s have a stab at it anyway. My arms are getting tired.”
Methos wasn’t really sure what happened next. One moment, the doctor was standing right beside him, smiling widely; he next, he was leaping over one of the Daleks, his screwdriver glowing on his hand. “Bloody hell!” he growled as he dove between two of the advancing Daleks, wincing as a laser bolt singed his hair.
“Come on!” the Doctor yelled over his shoulder as he sprinted down a corridor. “You can have your nap later.”
Cursing under his breath, Methos scrambled to his feet and ran after him, “You actually get a kick out of this, don’t you?” he said, through gritted teeth, as he noticed the gleeful look on the Doctors face.”
“What’s not to love?” he asked, as they skidded around a corner.
this is madness.”
“Not as mad as an Earth ruled by Daleks, trust me on this,” the Doctor declared as they entered another, smaller chamber. “Now, if I was gateway from a nether-dimension, where would I be?”
“Nether-dimension? You just made that up, didn’t you?”
. Nasty things, nether-dimensions, and nearly impossible to access…but what else could it be? It’s the only feasible way he could have survived – this way.”
Methos was beginning to get the impression that the Doctor did a lot of running down corridors, he certainly seemed to have a lot of enthusiasm for it.
After what seemed like an age, they halted at a pair of large, double doors, and Methos put a hand on his arm as the Doctor grabbed the handle. “We don’t have any idea of what is on the other side,” he pointed out.
“True,” he agreed. “But, on the other hand, we know exactly
what’s behind us. How could it get any worse?”
“You had to say that, didn’t you?”
“Kind of, yeah,” he said, waggling his eyebrows. “Ready?”
“Would no be an acceptable answer?”
“Not really,” he said, pushing the door open.
The room glowed; there was no other description for it. The walls glowed, the ceiling glowed, the great big transparent vats of weird blue liquid glowed; hell, even the floor glowed.
“I wouldn’t look too closely at those, if I were you,” the Doctor said quietly as Methos took an involuntary step towards one of the vats.
“Who not….oh,” Methos gulped down a wave a nausea. “What are they?” he eventually asked.
“They are…or should I say were,
gladiators,” the Doctor said. “Not pretty, is it? The Dalek’s have a twisted sense of perfection.”
“Another thing they’ve got in common with the Romans,” Methos said softly.
“Yes, and before I’m finished they’ll be another yet,” the Doctor said, his voice grim. “It’s time to see the Dalek Empire fall.”
“What exactly are you looking for?” Methos asked, as the doctor shuffled along the wall, his ear pressed up against it.
“Ssssh,” the Doctor said. “We don’t have much time.” He pushed himself away from the wall and frowned at it. “Hmm, that’s funny…ah, of course!” A smile lit up his face as he stared at his shoes. “How interesting.”
Methos sighed, tapping his foot impatiently, as the doctor fell to his knees and put his ear to the floor. “I don’t think there’s a train coming,” he drawled.
Methos watched in disbelief as the Doctor licked the floor, then spat, as if he’d suddenly found something disagreeable in his mouth. No doubt about it, he was a very strange individual…well, he’d met worse, he supposed. He never really understood Byron’s attachment to that goat, for instance….”
“Found it! Better stand back,” the screwdriver glowed, and Methos hastily retreated as the part of the floor began to liquidise.
“What, the hell, is that?” he asked as the Doctor scrambled to his feet.
“That, my dear…what are you calling yourself nowadays, anyway?”
“You mean you don’t already know?” Methos teased, then relented as the Doctor quirked an eyebrow. “Call me Adam.”
“Nice, I like the way you picked your words…and you may still call me the Doctor.
“Great, now that we’ve got the pseudonyms out of the way, could you tell me what happened to the floor?”
“Oh, that’s easy, there is no floor. There is only the Gateway.”
“Why thank you, Padiwan,” Methos said, sarcasm lacing his voice. “Now could I have that in English, please?”
“Ooh, a pop reference. There’s hope for you yet.” The Doctor grinned as he dove for the nearest vat, and started pulling wires out of its base. “No time to explain, just to get ready to run.”
“Why did I know you were going to say that?”“Exterminate! Exterminate!”
“Doctor, I think the bad guys have found us,” Methos said, his eyes trained on the open doorway.
“No need to worry,” the Doctor said. “By the time they get here they’ll have bigger things to deal with.”
“Oh, in that case…” Methos muttered under his breath.
“I heard that,” the Doctor said genially, as he fused the mess of wires together. “Have a little faith.”
“I’d rather a have a weapon,” Methos said, warily watching the door. “Preferably something along the lines of a rocket launcher.”
“Nah, too messy, don’t want to bring down the coliseum down on top of us, do we?” “It wasn’t just what he said, it was the way he said it,”
Methos mused as he studied the back of the Doctor’s head. “As if he came to a conclusion by a completely different route to everyone else…his world must be very strange place
.” Methos tried to imagine an entire civilisation made up of Doctors…and then shuddered.
“Hello, Earth to Methos? Time to go.”
Methos blinked, and stared at the Doctor as he jumped up. “I thought you didn’t know my name.”
The Doctor’s eyes filled with humour. “I said I didn’t know what you were calling yourself,” he pointed out smugly. “I never said I didn’t know your name.”
“Why you little—”
The vats suddenly began to gurgle, and the Doctor grabbed his arm. “I wasn’t kidding when I said it was time to go,” he said.
“Run for your life!” The Doctor crowed. The words had the sound of practice.
They had barely gained the corridor when the first Dalek floated into view, and they both skidded to a halt.
Methos caught the Doctor’s eye. “The other way?” he asked.
“The other way,” the Doctor confirmed. They spun around and ran…for their lives.
Methos wasn’t really sure in what direction they were going anymore, he just followed the Doctor’s lead, which was disturbing on many levels. Did he really trust the Doctor with his life? Apparently, he did.
“This way,” the Doctor yelled, grabbing his arm as he barrelled through a doorway and up a flight of steps.
“Why are we in such a hurry?” Methos asked, slightly out of breath. “They don’t seem to be following us.”
“Because if we’re not on the other side of the door at the top of these steps in thirty seconds, we’re going to be sucked into the nether-world and die a horrible, and very final death.”
“Good enough for me.”
They burst through the door, finding themselves above ground once more, and the Doctor slammed it behind him, resting against it as he caught his breath. “Five,” he panted. “Four, three, two….one.”
There was nothing. No sound, no boom, nothing.
Methos raised an eyebrow. “Are you sure it worked?” he asked.
“Not really, no,” he admitted. “Want to find out?” Not waiting for an answer, he opened the door a crack and poked his head in.
“Well?” Methos asked impatiently.
"See for yourself,” he said, opening the door wide. On the other side was a small stone alcove the size of a cupboard.
“Where are the steps gone?” Methos asked, frowning.
The Doctor shrugged. The Daleks don’t exist anymore, so neither does their secret base.”
“Handy that,” Methos observed.
The Doctor smiled happily. “Yes, isn’t it? Shall we go?”
The Doctor clapped a hand on his shoulder. “Well, I don’t know about you, but I have a tie to collect.
Methos kept his lips firmly shut; there was no way in hell he was going to ask.
The doctor sighed. “You’re no fun. Come on, I’ll drop you off on the way there.”
And Methos grinned at his back as the Time Lord led the way.FINIS