"So, where is it that we're going again? Somewhere warm and inviting, with loads of beach and hospitable inhabitants, am I right?" Rose twirled in the voluminous white skirt. "And what's with the clothes this time around? Doesn't exactly make for good running, traipsing about in these shoes, you know."
The Doctor, busy with some arcane part of the TARDIS which had required his attention for the bulk of the morning, poked his head out of a conglomeration of keyboards, wires, and other items that could only be accurately identified by the loose category of "TARDIS stuff."
"You would know about good running apparel, wouldn't you? Nearly got us run out of town the last place I took you."
"Oi, it wasn't my fault they thought we were interrupting their ritual--"
"It's always a ritual with you, isn't it?" He cocked his head to one side. "If I had an apple for every ritual you've barged in on, the universe would never need another orchard."
Rose stuck her tongue out at him, just as the Doctor turned to begin setting the coordinates.
"Somewhere warm and relaxing, you hear?" She called out out to him. "But not too relaxing-- I don't want to be bored to death-- so better go for exciting, too."
Spinning a knob delicately, the Doctor pondered the location. "Right. Relaxing and exciting it is."
"You know," Rose mused, tongue exploring the roof of her mouth as she did so, "that kinda sounds like an amusement park." She gave the Doctor a worried look. "Tell me we're not going to some alien amusement park."
"We're not going to some alien amusement park."
"Not yet, anyway."
As it turned out, the Doctor had not taken them to a theme park, alien or no. Upon stepping out of the TARDIS, Rose was presented with a vast expanse of sea, broken only by shining silver streaks, reflecting the sun's light back at her from across the ocean.
"What is this?"
At her elbow, the Doctor answered and surveyed the water surrounding them. Not a scrap of land was in sight. "This is Sagreth in all its glory. The entire planet is made up of ocean; legend has it that it once had continents and islands and stuff, but all that sunk into the sea after..."
He cleared his throat. Rose took his silence as an opportunity to ask questions.
"So, it's sort of like Atlantis, though more global, right? But if the land's gone," Rose gave careful attention to the surface under her feet, "how is it that we're standing in a field of potatoes?"
Extending a hand to gesture over the ocean, the Doctor pointed out one of the shining rectangles on the water's surface. "See those?"
Rose squinted, shielding her eyes from the glare. "Yeah. What are they?"
"Harvest platforms. We're on one. They're like docks, but they're filled with soil, sort of like floating terraces. Sagreth grows its food on them. Granted," he speculated, "they had a bit of a mess on their hands when they jumbled the crops' DNA, but it looks like they've sorted that."
Rose's brow furrowed as she gave a potato plant a closer look. "Wait, what do you mean by 'jumbled?'"
"Well, with their whole world sinking below an encroaching ocean, you can hardly expect them to pay attention what strand of what goes where, or which casing works best with it. They had to take what they could before the labs all sank. But, as I was saying before, they've made a good deal of progress with reconstructing everything." He frowned, spotting something yellow and long a few feet away. "Didn't have bananas last time I was here, though. Fancy that."
A nervous thought worried Rose. "What if they fudged it?"
The Doctor sighed. "Oh honestly, Rose, give them the benefit of a doubt. Here, have a banana."
Plucking one from an overhanging tree, he offered it to her. Tentatively passing the fruit from hand to hand, Rose finally decided that it was safe to eat, at least from the outside. She peeled back the skin and--
"Doctor. The inside is blue."
The Time Lord, who had been busy trying to calculate how long it would take them to go from one dock to the next, abruptly turned back to his companion. And his eyes confirmed that, yes, the banana was indeed blue.
He nodded approvingly. "Can't say that it matches the TARDIS well enough for me to want to take some along, but it's alright. No objections on grounds of color."
"But it's blue."
"Yeah, I told you: their scientists haven't gotten all the finer points down yet. So, it's blue. Still a good source of potassium, despite the blueness."
Rose stared hard at the fruit.
"God, I'd hate to see their chips."
The Doctor laughed. "I'd never have thought Rose Tyler capable of turning down chips. C'mon."
He offered her his arm and she took it; together they traversed the alternately metal and earth ground, coming eventually to row upon row of strawberries. Rose's stomach growled rather audibly, and popped a few of the red fruits into her mouth.
"Not afraid of them anymore, are you?"
Barely managing to swallow, she gave him a pained look. "You could have warned me that they tasted like toothpaste beforehand."
"No, minty fresh, actually. Kinda strange, that."
Suddenly, an piercing alarm broke through the serene lapping of the waves and red lights began flashing above the pair's heads. Rose shot the Doctor a worried look.
"I don't suppose you'd know why that's happening. Any invasions, alien activity, more former time agents trying to pawn spaceships off to unsuspecting tourists you forgot to tell me about?"
The Doctor glanced down at the fruit Rose held meaningfully.
"Oh, come off it," The teenager rebuked the Time Lord. "Like a few strawberries would set off an alarm."
"Not when strawberries are Sagreth's currency of choice." Smiling at her briefly in that look-who's-in-trouble-now way of his, he nodded at the fruit. "From what I remember of their conversion factors, you've probably eaten about..." he did the calculation deftly, "oh, five hundred quid."
"I think that was the most expensive snack I've ever eaten in my life."
"Probably the only one that tasted like toothpaste, too. Y'know, this makes us felons, according to their laws."
Over the cusp of the horizon, Rose could make out the several shapes of what she assumed to be airborne sentries. Their bulky forms suggested that they were well-armed and more than ready to deal with any produce pilfering thieves they might find. Rose bit her lip.
"Really, Doctor, I don't think this is the time--"
"However, being on the ocean and stealing is a different matter in Sagre--Rose, are you listening?"
"'Course I am." She replied, not really listening at all. The Doctor was rambling on and on, while those machines flew closer...why didn't they just get out of here? Where was the TARDIS...? "You're not planning on getting us taken hostage again, are you?"
The Doctor looked up, affronted. "Oh, far from it." He pointed something out in the distance to her; Rose thought he meant the ships initially.
"What do you mean, 'what?' This is our ticket out, it is."
Something that looked like weird cross between a schooner and a helicopter occupied the air space thirty meters above their heads and began a slow descent. Already on the metallic floors, Rose could hear the clank of boots and the tread of what she could only assume to be either advanced weaponry or gardening tools. Either, given the situation, could probably prove to be quite dangerous.
Having already been captured twice this week, Rose was in no mood to take another tour of local prisons. She was starting to give up hope on the current turn of events, though.
"Doctor, if we're going to get out, we really ought to make a run for it now."
The Time Lord didn't seem the least bit bothered by the sudden onslaught. "Sagreth's punishment for theft is a lot stricter than you'd think. 'Cos the world is all water and that, they're at perpetual risk of famine. So, the usual sentence for stealing from a harvest platform is exile below the ocean, which is not particularly pleasant, or, in heavier cases involving burglary of funds," he nodded at the strawberry stems Rose still held guiltily, "death."
Rose swallowed. Death for strawberries? They hadn't even tasted that good.
Above them, the craft's engines had caused the vines on the trellises and leaves to whip through the air. Rose could just barely make out the square shape of a bay door opening. Whatever was coming, it was coming soon.
"In reaction to this, a group operating independently of the government was formed, called the Confederation of Corsairs."
She bit her lip. Of all the times that she didn't need to hear about Sea World's version of Amnesty International for hapless fruit eaters! She considered hauling the Doctor off to the TARDIS regardless of what he was saying, or what direction it was in, but then decided against it. Sure, she'd gotten stuck in prisons twice this week already, but...
Something about him made her always want to trust him. So, she would.
"Alright, Doctor, what's your brilliant plan for getting us out of this one?"
"Glad you asked." He smiled at her and then dug in his jacket pocket for something that was obviously terribly important.
A few more seconds of frustrated fishing and searching ensued. He was evidently having trouble finding it.
"Hold on a mo."
Rose thought that he was going to get the sonic screwdriver, even though it probably wouldn't do them much good against what was coming. She looked around hastily for farming implements that could be used as bludgeons. Finding a rake, she was about to dash off for it, when she heard the Doctor's triumphant cry:
Rose exhaled a sigh of relief and looked to see what he'd procured. And thus, she saw that the object of their salvation was...
An eye patch.
Not anything special in the vanity department, just the standard, run-of-the-mill eye patch that one might find at a costume shop or as an accessory to a Halloween outfit.
Pulling the elastic string, he fit it around his left eye neatly and, flashing Rose an effervescent grin, struck a pose.
She could have left right there, jumped into the ocean or into the arms of her waiting captors, but Rose Tyler was too stupefied by the curious sight of Time Lord playing pirate to do anything more than stare.
Which she did. Quite admirably.
A rope ladder unfurled from the open bay door of the ship above them. The Doctor grabbed it and began to climb, then, noticing her expression, paused.
"Didn't I tell you?" He gestured at the ladder. "Corsair's Confederation. Everybody's in, so long as they actively participate in an act of rebellion. Looks like they're going to make you a charter member." He surveyed the ship hovering overhead. "Real classy, this."
Holding out a hand to her as he had a long time ago, he grinned, blue eyes dancing like the gleams of sun on sea. "Come along, then."
And, just like all those times before, she ran right into his arms.
The rope ladder began to retract, carrying them both. Feeling the warm of the Doctor's arm protectively around her, Rose smiled, comfortable at last.
"Charter member, huh? Do I get my own pirate ship or something?"
"Oi, what's wrong with my ship?"
Rose laughed, trying to imagine the TARDIS decked out in pirate colors.
"Nothing. Nothing at all."