AN: Hello! I have returned! Sorry once again for the long wait. I know I keep saying that, but RL keeps springing up.
Anyway consider this my Christmas present to you all. I originally wanted it to be a bit longer, but I figured you were all waiting long enough, and I thought it would affect the flow if I threw in everything I'd wanted to originally include. However, I am somewhat pleased with the end result, and hopefully, you will too.
On that note, please enjoy, and Merry Christmas to you all.
The moonlit courtyard was completely still, with not a single person in sight. Therefore, no one was around to take notice when one of the faded stones bordering the central fountain began to move, revealing a secret passageway. Cautiously, Rose pulled herself out and glanced around.
"Okay," she whispered once she was sure that it was safe. "It's all clear. Let's go." Turning back to the passageway, Rose helped Sebastiane climb out after her, followed by Solaris. The second she was out, Sebastiane turned to look back in the direction of the ballroom, where the sounds of panicking guests could faintly be heard.
"This is awful," Sebastiane choked out, looking close to tears. "This was supposed to be a celebration of a war ending. And now, everyone back there is…"
"They'll be fine," Rose insisted, placing a consoling arm around Sebastiane's shoulder. "The Doctor and Jack are back there sorting it all out, and let's not forget that Captain Rea and the rest of your father's guards are doing the same thing. The important thing is to make sure you're safe. The Anti-Peace rebels are only here because they're trying to get you."
"She's right," Solaris agreed. "Besides, they won't gain anything by hurting the other guests, will they? So, why would they even bother with trying?" Sebastiane said nothing, but simply nodded before following Rose and Solaris through the courtyard to where the TARDIS was parked.
However, just as they were nearly there, Rose froze, throwing out an arm to stop the others.
"Wait," she whispered. "Listen. Someone's coming." Sure enough, when Sebastiane and Solaris paused for a moment, they could hear the sound of footsteps coming closer. Moving quickly, they hid themselves among a nearby cluster of shrubs, concealing themselves just in time before two figures entered the courtyard. Moving cautiously so they wouldn't be seen, Rose and Sebastiane peered through the branches to try and make out who the figures were.
"Oh!" Sebastiane gasped, placing a hand over her mouth. "Their clothing! They're Anti-Peace rebels! What are they doing out here? I thought they were attacking the ballroom."
"They were," Rose replied back, keeping her voice down. "But…maybe that's what they wanted us to think. Maybe they only attacked the ballroom because they knew we'd try and get you out of there. The rebels in the ballroom are just a diversion."
"What are we going to do?" Sebastiane asked, her eyes widening. "They'll be sure to find us before long, and we can't get to the TARDIS without them seeing us."
"Exactly," Solaris suddenly spoke up, a devious smile appearing on her face. "So… maybe we should just…let them see Sebastiane."
"Solaris!" Rose gaped, turning to the N'renyan thief in shock. "We're supposed to keep her safe! How can you say we just hand her over?"
"I didn't say that, Rose," Solaris smirked. "I just said…let them see Sebastiane. You see, I've got an idea."
Ambassador Ection entered a small room within his mansion, with the Doctor and Jack close behind him. The moment they walked in, Captain Rea looked over at them, tearing his eyes away from the Anti-Peace rebel that was currently secured tightly to a chair. In the commotion that had taken place in the ballroom, they had managed to apprehend one of the rebels, and ever since then, Captain Rea had been attempting to goad him into revealing where the other Anti-Peace rebels were hiding out.
"I'm sorry, Ambassador," Captain Rea apologized. "He still will not talk."
"Thank you for trying, Captain Rea, but that does not matter anymore. The peace treaty has been signed, so there is no longer anything the rebels can do to prevent it."
As Captain Rea's attention returned to the Anti-Peace rebel, Ambassador Ection turned to the Doctor and Jack with a grateful smile.
"I want to thank you both once again for helping protect my daughter tonight. If it weren't for you, I don't know what would have happened."
"It was no trouble at all," Jack shrugged.
"Regardless, we did have a bargain. So, about this coronet you're looking for….."
"Doctor! Jack! DOCTOR!" Ambassador Ection was interrupted by Solaris' voice, which echoed throughout the hall outside. Mere seconds later, Solaris appeared in the doorway, clearly out of breath, looking as if she'd run a great distance.
"Solaris?" the Doctor blinked, visibly stunned by her appearance. "What is it?"
"Doctor," Solaris panted, gasping for breath as Sebastiane came into view and hurried over to her father's side, hugging him in relief. "I'm…I…."
"Where's Rose?" Jack asked, noticing she were not present. The instant Jack mentioned Rose, Solaris flinched, clenching her teeth.
"Solaris," the Doctor's tone shifted from confused to stern concern. "What happened?"
"My fault…" Solaris whispered, rubbing at the stitch in her side. "It was my fault. It…it was my stupid idea."
"What?" the Doctor demanded, stepping forward and firmly grasping Solaris shoulders in an attempt to calm her down enough to explain. "What was your stupid idea?"
"Rose and Solaris got me out into the courtyard, just as you all planned," Sebastiane spoke up. "But…there were Anti-Peace rebels out there."
"Anti-Peace rebels?" Captain Rea cried in surprise. "In the courtyard?"
"How is that possible, Sebastiane?" Ambassador Ection asked, shaking his head.
"I don't know," Sebastiane replied. "I don't know why they were out there instead of the ballroom, but Rose thought that the rebels in the ballroom might have just been a diversion, to draw me out. And…it nearly worked. There wasn't a way we could get to the Doctor's TARDIS without them seeing us. So Solaris came up with a plan and traded dresses with me, hoping that the Anti-Peace rebels would think she was me. The Anti-Peace rebels took the bait and chased after Solaris, and Rose and I made it over to the TARDIS. But…just as Rose opened the door, another Anti-Peace rebel showed up and found us. Rose only had time to push me into the TARDIS and close the door behind me, but…the Anti-Peace rebel must have captured Rose in my place."
"When I was returning to the mansion after loosing the Anti-Peace rebels who came after me," Solaris concluded in a mournful tone, "a carriage passed by me in the street. Doctor….I saw Rose's life force inside the carriage! ! I tried to follow them, I swear, I did. But….the Anti-Peace rebels; they…my wings were…" As Solaris rushed explanation came to an end, the Doctor glanced down at Solaris' retractable wings, which he'd just noticed were drooping down from her back. One of them had clearly been injured by a direct hit from a blaster.
"I'm sorry," Solaris whimpered, fisting her hands in her hair in frustration. "It was my fault. I never should of…"
"Ambassador," the Doctor interrupted in a harsh voice. "If I might, I would like a moment alone with the Anti-Peace rebel."
"Sir, this is completely…" Captain Rea started to speak, but was instantly silenced with a single look from the Doctor.
"Ambassador Ection?" the Doctor repeated, his body now completely ridged. Ambassador Ection was about to reply, but Solaris reached out to grasp his arm, looking at the Doctor with a strange expression on her face.
"I…I think we should listen to him," she stated, seemingly unable to look away from the Doctor. "Believe me, I don't think we…should stay in here with them."
After a few moments of further hesitation, Ambassador Ection relented and left the room, with Solaris, Jack, Sebastiane and a reluctant Captain Rea following him. Once they were completely alone, the Doctor slowly stepped over to the Anti-Peace rebel, who was smirking in a smug manner.
"Where is Rose?" the Doctor demanded, his expression hard and unyielding. "Where was she taken?"
"If that joke of a captain couldn't make me talk, old man," the Anti-Peace rebel sneered, "what makes you think I'll say anything to you?" The moment these words were out of the rebel's mouth, the Doctor shoved the chair backwards with such strength, it crashed into the wall. In a flash, the Doctor was once again standing over the rebel, glowering down at him. The Anti-Peace rebel, by pure reflex, blanched at the look in the Doctor's eyes. Up to that point, the Anti-Peace rebel would never have thought that a glare could leave him so unsettled. But this one? It was like fire and ice at the same time, and just one glance was enough to freeze the rebel's blood.
"Let's try that again, shall we?" the Doctor asked, his voice shaking with barely suppressed rage. "Where. Is. Rose?"
Down in the briefing room, Ambassador Ection and Captain Rea stood by, watching as Sebastiane applied a thick poultice to Solaris' injured wing, which Jack was helping to hold steady.
"There you go," Sebastiane stated once she was done. "This was made by one of Galaniya's best healers. Up until now, it was used to treat injuries Galaniyan soldiers received in the war with Crystanila. It should help speed up the healing process."
"Mmm. Thanks Sebastiane," Solaris smiled over her shoulder at the young girl. "It's feeling better already."
"All right then, Sebastiane," Ambassador Rea stepped forward. "I think you'd better head up to bed. It's getting late, and you've had a very busy day. Captain Rea will escort you."
"Yes, Father," Sebastiane nodded. However, before she left with Captain Rea, she glanced back at Jack. "Rose will be okay, won't she? You'll get her back?"
"Of course we will," Jack replied confidently.
"Good," Sebastiane smiled happily. "When you save her, tell her 'thank you' for me."
Moments after Sebastiane had left for bed, the Doctor suddenly appeared in the doorway. Even though his face was composed, there was still a hardened, determined glint in his eyes.
"The Anti-Peace rebels have stationed their headquarters above the inn on Erat Street," he announced, turning to Jack and Solaris. "That's where they've taken Rose."
"Very well, then," Ambassador Ection began with determination. "I'll have the entire guard ready to head over there straight away."
"That's not necessary," the Doctor shook his head.
"Of course it is," Ambassador Ection argued. "Your friend was captured because she helped protect my daughter. Therefore, I am obligated to return the favor by helping save your friend."
"Ambassador," Jack stepped in. "What do you think they'll do to Rose if your guards all start surrounding the inn? It would be much better for Rose if you don't send out the entire guard." Ambassador Ection paused for a moment, thinking to himself.
"Very well. But I must insist you accept Captain Rea's help, at the very least."
"Thank you, Ambassador," the Doctor nodded. With that, Ambassador Ection, Jack and the Doctor started to head off to go after Rose, but Solaris hesitated, looking at the Doctor hesitantly.
"Doctor?" she called out suddenly. The moment he heard her speak, the Doctor looked back.
"Solaris, what are you waiting for?" he asked, noticing she hadn't moved from the table. "If we don't get Rose out of…"
"I know," Solaris sighed. "I…I just need to say one thing before we leave."
"What is it?" the Doctor asked.
"I…it's about…the state of your life force. Or rather, the state it was in before we left you alone with that Anti-Peace rebel upstairs. I've been able to see people's life forces for a good fifteen years now. I've seen the effect emotions such as happiness and anger have on it. But…the appearance of your life force back in that room just now? I've never seen anything like it before. It was…I don't think I can think of a good way to describe it. It was just….oppressive. Like thunder. And…I can honestly say that…just seeing it….I was actually scared. And the fact that I got scared just seeing it..." Solaris' words instantly trailed off, and she simply shook her head before continuing. "I never thought I'd ever see rage of that intensity in any living being. I can honestly say that…I do not envy anyone who's on the receiving end of that rage. All the same, it worries me."
"What worries you?" the Doctor prompted, looking away, trying to not show how Solaris' words were bothering him.
"Has…has there ever been a time when…the wrong person gets in the way of that rage? I'm not trying to upset you Doctor. Believe me; I don't ever want to do that. But…I'm just concerned, for Rose and Jack. And for you. What if…either Rose or Jack got hurt when your rage gets that intense? What…would you do then?"