LiaDonna opened her eyes to see the Doctor crouched down beside her, a concerned look on his face. "Are you alright?" he asked gently.

"I think so," she replied, sitting up slowly, a hand going to her head. She caught her breath when she saw Jason sprawled beside the stasis chamber.

"It's alright. He came through it," the Doctor informed quickly. "Although I'm not sure how long he'll be out. Somehow he managed to shield you, taking the full force of the backlash him self."

Suddenly remembering what she had just done, LiaDonna looked into the Time Lord's face. "Are you alright?" she asked.

"Couldn't be better," he beamed back. "And thanks to you, the control system is out of commission quite permanently."

Nodding in Jason's direction, LiaDonna replied, "I just hope he's not out of commission quite permanently."

"Oh no, I'm sure he'll be alright. K-9, what's Jason's status?" the Doctor asked.

"The Young Master is unconscious, Master," came the succinct reply.

"I can see that. What's the status of his energy level?"

"Energy conversion levels fluctuating, Master."

"Is it a regular fluctuation or random?" LiaDonna asked, going on to amaze the Doctor with her expertise as she went on to ask several extremely detailed questions.

"You're right, Doctor," she said at last, "he took quite a jolt. He'll be out for hours. Probably even days." Seeing the astonished look on the Time Lord's face, LiaDonna flushed slightly, lowering her eyes. "I wasn't always a Healer's wife."

"Energy conversion expert from the sound of it," the Doctor observed.

The Alterran female responded with a self-conscious smile.

"Well then, if Jason's going to be napping for a while, I'll have time to get you back where you belong before anyone notices you're missing." The Doctor rose to his feet, helping the reluctant woman to hers. He then assisted her from the room, calling back, "K-9, you're in charge. Look after Jason." He waved a hand in direction of the trapped Bryce and Azure as he left the room. "And keep an eye on these two."

The Doctor was barely out of the storage area when LiaDonna came to an abrupt stop. "I think I can manage until the end now," she said firmly.

"You're sure?" the Doctor asked concernedly.

"I mean that," came the mysterious reply.

The Doctor gave her a puzzled look.

With a sigh, LiaDonna said seriously, "I'm dying, Doctor. I know it, and I'm sure you do too. Jason told me you came here as a surprise but didn't expect to find me or Aaron here."

"That was my mistake—"

Holding up a hand, she said, "I'd like to thank you for that mistake. You've given me a glimpse into a future I won't have. The child I won't see grow up. All I can say is thank-you, but that seems so inadequate. He's…he's…amazing."

"The glimpse works both ways, you know," the Doctor said mildly. "Although I could stran gle him for telling you."

LiaDonna gave a small smile, a hand going to her abdomen. "Please don't. I think we've done enough damage for one day."

The Doctor was equally serious. "Thank you very much for what you did for me. It was very brave of you to risk so much on my account."

"Please, don't mention it."

The Doctor flashed a broad smile. "That's what I was going to say."


"I'd appreciate it if you didn't mention this to anyone," the Doctor explained. "This little ad venture has broken several Time Laws and should it ever get back to Gallifrey, Jason and I could be in some rather serious trouble."

"Adventure? What adventure?" LiaDonna asked innocently. "I'm sorry, I don't believe we've met."

"Exactly." The Doctor turned to the door, stopped and turned back. "Incidentally, do you have a bad temper, by any chance?"

LiaDonna groaned, rolling her eyes. "Oh, have I! It's gotten me into more—" Breaking off, she scowled. "Why do you ask?"

"Oh, no reason," came the vague reply. "I've a friend with a hot temper, you see. Everyone tells him that he's just like his mother because of it. That's all." With a grin, the Doctor vanished through the door.

Jason awoke to find himself lying on an air mattress in the center of the Zero Room floor. He sat up slowly, looking around in bewilderment. How on earth did I get here? Getting slowly to his feet he went to the door, feeling the soothing affects of the room fall away the instant he crossed the threshold. Slowly, almost dazedly, he made his way to his room, stopping a moment to listen as the TARDIS hummed quietly around him. Well, at least we're still on the ground, he thought, the time machine's engines currently silent. At least the Doctor had the decency not to take off for parts unknown while I was asleep.

Upon arriving at his room Jason looked in the wall mirror, seeing he was still in Eldarian form and wearing the uniform Azure had found for him. He was also still wearing the control collar and immediately pulled it from his neck, tossing it onto a wastebasket in distaste.

After a long, soothing shower, Jason was back in his human form and in his own clothes. Now to find the Doctor, he thought as he headed towards the door.

The Doctor was in the console room entering coordinates into the navigational computer when his bewildered companion finally made his appearance. "Ah, there you are!" he chirped brightly, looking up from the console. "K-9 said you were up. Sleep well?"

Jason threw a glance in K-9's direction and then shrugged. "I guess. How long have I been out?"

The Doctor did not seem to hear him. "I've been trying to decide where we should go next. Any suggestions?"

"Doctor, how long have I been out?" Jason asked again.

"After all, my last—"

"Doctor, how long?"

The Doctor cleared his throat, meeting the Alterran's gaze steadily. "Three days."

Jason was so stunned he did not even notice when the Doctor hit the dematerialization switch.

"You missed quite a bit, I'm afraid," the Time Lord said quietly. "The power surge did a bit more than short out the Eldarians' control. It activated the revival program and brought everyone out of stasis, whether they wanted to be or not. I don't recall just now, but I believe there were nearly a hundred thousand of them at last count. The local authorities are helping to coordinate the efforts to return them to Solus Wistos."

"Whether they wanted to be or not?" Jason injected.

"No. Some wanted to stay on and help George Hargrove make a go of running the Dome as a legitimate enterprise. Bryce, on the other hand, wasn't so lucky. The authorities took rather a dim view of what he'd done. And poor old Talbot was rescued from Bryce only to be arrested. It seems he's wanted on several counts of smuggling, as well as a few other crimes."

Jason listened in silence as the Doctor told of the happenings of the last three days. When he concluded, the Alterran scowled. There was something rather important he felt had been over looked.

"Is that it?" Jason asked pointedly.

"As far as the universe is concerned, yes."

"And the Time Lords? Are they satisfied? I must've broken half of the Time Laws."

"Ah, yes, well…" the Doctor replied, waving a hand in the air. "What they don't know won't hurt us." Suddenly his voice was very serious, "I'm very glad that you're alright, Jason. It was terribly fool hardy of you to do what you did on my account."

Jason smiled self consciously, lowering his eyes. "Well, you did ask me to make sure you got out."

"Yes. And as Bryce pointed out, you can be very literal minded when you want to be. Which reminds me," the Doctor said, interrupting himself. "That was a real control collar you had on, wasn't it?"

"Oh, yes."

"Then you'll forgive my asking, but how is it you were able to overcome its control? It wasn't something as simple as your not being Eldarian, was it?"

"Well, yes and no," Jason replied hesitantly. "I was able to override the energy pulse with my own energy field. Azure had the misfortune of choosing a time when I needed to restabilize."

The Doctor could not help but laugh.

"So, where are we going?" the Alterran asked.

"I think you should pick this time," the Doctor informed. "I took you to the Dome to rest, but that didn't seem to happen, did it?"

"What do you call what I've been doing the last three days?"

"I meant rest as in relax, actually.

"Oooooh," Jason sing-songed. He stood thoughtfully a moment before saying, "Do you know of any planets that are having a war or something? Nothing catastrophic, mind you. No thermo-nuclear holocausts. Just a nice little civil war, native uprising, civil unrest, that sort of thing?"

The Doctor blinked, completely thrown by this request. "Why would you want to know that?"

With a devilish grin, Jason replied, "Because if we go somewhere that's already in upheaval, maybe they'll leave us in peace."

The next story in this arc "THE GUARDIAN"

The Gathering Dome © 2000 Margaret Price is an original work written for the enjoyment of Doctor Who fans everywhere.
No copyright infringement is intended.
Original series broadcast on the BBC. Format © BBC 1963
Doctor Who and Tardis are trademarks of the BBC.
The story and all other original characters are © Margaret Price