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.
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."