Chapter Twenty-Three

Pulling Rank

King Jason entered the seldom used throne room, throwing a disgusted look in the direction of the ornate monstrosity provided as his throne. He took a seat on the steps leading to it and looked over to the TARDIS standing at the base of the steps a few metres away.

"Doctor, are you sure there'll be no problems once they reach Gallifrey?" he called out concernedly. "Even if we're not supposed to be considered aliens, you know how the Time Lords can be."

"You needn't worry about a thing, my Royal friend," the Doctor chirped brightly as he emerged from the TARDIS. "I've already notified the High Council. Someone will be there to meet them the moment they arrive." Taking a seat beside the King, he added devilishly, "I also reminded them—quite accidentally, of course—that you're the Lord Emperor's favorite nephew. I don't think there'll be any problems."

Jason's eyes lit up and he grinned from ear to ear. "Somethings never change, do they?"

"True. But you're certainly not one of them," the Time Lord remarked. "You've changed quite a bit since I saw you last. You used to be uncomfortable with your position, Royal authority and all that, remember?"

His friend smiled knowingly, having already encountered the Time Lord's future self while he was still Crown Prince. You have no idea.

"That certainly isn't the case now," the Doctor was saying. "I saw that when you stopped Juris in his tracks."

"I'm not sure that had anything to do with Royal authority, Doctor. I was acting as an angry parent, not a King. It's not easy keeping one's children in line. Especially the likes of my five."

The Doctor blinked. "Five!" he gasped. "Isn't that a bit excessive for an Alterran?"

Jason laughed. "You should come see me more often than once every hundred years of so. You wouldn't miss so much."

The Doctor cleared his throat. "Like your coronation, for example?"

Jason laughed again. "You could still attend anonymously. Watch from the crowds and then leave." With a sigh, he confessed to having wished he could have done the same thing. He hated all the pageantry, wanting to simply get it over with so he could return to traveling with his unique band of investigators.

"Which reminds me," the Doctor interrupted. "Just when did this extraordinary road show of yours get started?"

Jason blushed slightly, causing his friend to think that some things never did change after all. "I wasn't kidding about this being your fault, Doctor," the Alterran said in a slightly accusing tone. "That last little escapade of yours got the Lord Emperor's attention in a big way. You had to go and tell him about—" Breaking off, Jason chuckled, "I don't know why I'm scolding you. I love my work. I started out looking into this and that 'as a favor,' and the next thing I knew…"

"Krystovan and Company was born," the Doctor grinned. A sudden thought struck him and he gasped, "Good Lord, Jason, I've just realized. You were still Crown Prince then. Just how long have you been doing this?"

"You thought I was joking when I said it got easier after the first half century, didn't you?"

"Well…" the Doctor hedged. "Nobody misses you?"

"Not so's you'd notice. I'm only a figurehead, anyway. The Senate and Central Council have most of the real power."

"I was thinking a little closer to home, actually," the Time Lord said acidly.

"I'm not gone that much," Jason countered. "In fact, this investigation's been the longest one to date. I'm not usually gone more than a few weeks, if that. I only stopped once, and that was when my father—" Unable to say the word "died" he lowered his eyes and sighed, the memory of King Aaron passing like a ghost across his face.

"I am sorry, Jason," the Doctor said gently.

"He used to drive me crazy arguing with you all the time," Jason went on. Looking down at his hands, he sighed again. "I can't believe how much I still miss him," he added wistfully, wiping a stray tear from his cheek.

The Doctor put a consoling hand on his friend's shoulder and then rose to his feet, a clear signal that he was getting uncomfortable. Strong personal feelings always seemed to have that effect on him and Jason wondered how they had ever managed to become such good friends, he being so emotional by nature.

"I think I'd best look for Peri," the Time Lord announced as he started for the door.

"No, there's something I have to—" Jason cut himself off and held up a hand. "No, not like this."

Rising to his feet, the Alterran climbed the steps and surprised the Doctor when he suddenly transmuted, his clothing changing to elaborate finery, a jeweled crown appearing on his head. He then sat upon the ornate throne. In doing this, he was no longer plain, old Jason Krystovan; he was His Most Royal Majesty King Jason of Tel-Shye.

Looking every inch the regal figure he was the King looked at the puzzled Time Lord. "Before you leave, Doctor, I would speak with you privately," he said in a formal tone.

"Certainly," the Doctor said with a slight bow. "How may I serve your Royal Majesty?"

"I desire that you do something for me."

The Doctor blinked. Considering all they had ever been through together, he knew the Alterran realized he would do anything he asked, but was prevented from voicing these thoughts by an upraised hand.

"We both know," the King said calmly, "I could go into the TARDIS right now and find out exactly when my reign will end."

"Ja—your Majesty, you know I can't possibly allow—"

"I don't want to know when I'm going to die," King Jason cut in sharply. "I still believe some things are best left to the silence of the future."

"Then you've lost me," the Doctor confessed.

The Alterran smiled. "All I want is a promise that you'll return to see me at least once more before I do die," he said simply. "I don't know if it's because we're supposed to be connected or just my natural paranoia, but I can't shake the feeling I'll never see you again once you leave here."

The stunned look on the Time Lord's face caused the monarch to laugh. "Well, Doctor? How's that for authority? For once, it seems, I'm pulling rank on you!"

"Your Majesty, I'll have you know I'm still Lord President of Gallifrey," the Doctor snorted in feigned indignation.

"And I'm still the favorite nephew of the Lord Emperor of Alterrous," King Jason shot back smoothly.

"Touché. Alright, you win."

"I have your solemn promise?"

"Yes, you have my solemn promise," the Doctor repeated.

With a satisfied look on his face, Jason rose to his feet, returning to his previous and less ostentatious appearance, thus signaling the formality of the interview had ended.

"Before you let this little victory go to your head, your Royal Megalomaniac," the Doctor said baitingly, "just remember one thing. I could pop up at any time. Next week, next year, or even next century."

"Or all of the above," the King injected with a grin.

"Precisely. So just don't expect me to appear at your death bed."

"I should hope not!" Jason gasped.

"And who knows?" the Doctor said cheerily. "I may just pay a visit to the next appearance of Krystovan and Company."

This story is followed by Part Two - A Hole In Time, which takes place one year later, and brings together the 5th and 7th Doctors...sort of.

The Transmutation Of Time - Part One© 2003 - The Will Of Ormil © 1993 - 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