"Run!" The Doctor yelled, pushing Rose ahead of him. The sound was deafening as his shout resonated through the canyon. The walls bounced it back and forth, intensifying the sound each time.
"Wha…?" Rose turned around, but the Doctor tapped his index finger to his lips.
"No more words," he mouthed, pushing her onwards. By now the rocks were coming down from all directions, making visibility nearly non-existent. Rose stumbled as a boulder crashed down in front of her. In one move the Doctor steadied her and pushed her to the left.
He had to get Rose out of here, but the exit was still an hour away. Thoughts and possible solutions flashed in nanoseconds through his mind as he weighed and discharged them. Climbing up the rock face was out of the question; they had already tried. The stone was too rotten and crumbled right under their weight. Lucky for them, the canyon widened here enough to stay on the left where less rocks were coming down.
"Watch out!" Rose shrieked pulling him out of his musings.
A square rock face the size of a small hovercraft crashed down in front of them exploding into a million pieces as it shattered, showering them with debris.
The doctor dashed further to the left towards a little slope. Maybe that would keep them safe until the canyon walls stabilized.
"Up there!" He pointed, pulling Rose behind him.
Out of breath, they reached the mountain bench. Rose was white as a sheet as she leant shakily against him.
"We have to wait it out," he whispered. "There is no way we can make it to the tight entrance."
Rose nodded, too shaken to answer.
The Doctor studied the canyon. Their mountain bench had created an embankment giving them a bit of protection from the rocks. Behind them, the canyon valley had flattened and was overgrown by scrub and trees. Good, he thought, no stones coming from there.
Crash! Another piece of the canyon wall exploded and he pushed Rose down, covering her with his body.
They had entered this beautiful canyon through a corridor two meters wide where a powerful river had carved out a tight passage eons ago. Now the river had moved on leaving high canyon walls with a bubbling creek behind.
He had enjoyed Rose's enthusiasm about the Monorianshian Canyon as she danced in front of him through the tight entrance. The canyon walls towered over them high as cathedral towers – well, more like a couple of them stacked on top of each other. Amazed, Rose had caressed the polished stone of the canyon walls and he just was so happy he had somebody to share this beauty with. Their laughter intensified in the unyielding space traveling ahead off them. At one time, the canyon walls had been so close they had to squeeze through one after the other.
The Monorianshian pictographs were as amazing as he remembered seeing them in the archives. Rose gazed open-mouthed only half-listening to his explanations, but he didn't mind.
Now he regretted even having suggested the canyon and hidden temple in the first place. They crouched low on the embankment as stones still continued to rain down on them. He could feel Rose shivering under him. Not sure if it was only from the adrenalin rush or the cold. The temperature had dropped considerably since they had entered this morning. Or just since the defense systems kicked in – he couldn't be certain. But anyway… He would get her out of here. He had to.
Quickly, he shed his coat and draped it over her shoulders. Rose's protest was muffled as he shushed her. "We might have to camp here for a bit."
Rose twisted her head. "The rocks ain't stopping, are they?"
"Unfortunately, not." He said. "We have to find the detector."
"The what?" Rose tried to look up but he pushed her head down gently as yet another rockface exploded close by.
"We must have activated it as we hiked in – very clever, I must say."
"But why didn't the rocks go flying right then?"
"Yes, see, that's what's so smart. The Monorianshian still want you to see their temple – appreciate their culture and then on the way out – you get trapped inside."
"Great expectations," Rose mumbled. "You can reverse it, can't you?"
He tapped his index finger on his chin. "Good question. I have no idea, but find it we must."
Rose chuckled. "I know we're in trouble when you get all Yoda with me."
Rose giggled. "Never mind, you didn't even know who Spock was."
Rose laughed so hard he had to loosen his grip on her.
"Any guess where the detector is?" she asked once she caught her breath.
He shook his head. "But that hasn't stopped us yet, has it? My guess is after the tight section - for you are so overwhelmed by its beauty as the valley opens up in front of you that you would overlook any device."
"Hang on, I thought you'd been here before?" Rose twisted to look at him. "How did you get out of here the last time?"
"Ah, well." He tugged his earlobe. "You know—"
Rose raised an eyebrow.
"Just heard of the place," he admitted with a boyish grin. "Always meant to stop by and – well, I thought you would like it."
"Love it!" Rose beamed, but her eyes twinkled dangerously. "So, how come you know all the stuff you've been telling me?"
He grinned sheepishly fidgeting with his shirtsleeves.
Before he could stop her, Rose slid out of his protective embrace.
"You made it all up!" She rolled to her side.
"Not exactly, really, well… I mean technically I did, but I didn't!" He leant onto his elbows.
"You lost me," Rose studied him hard.
"Well… I travel a lot - as you know," he winked, but Rose remained stern, so he hastened to add. "I've been to other Monorianshian temples and learned about their culture. This is a very special sanctuary for them." He shrugged. "So, I wanted to show it to you."
"You wanted to impress me?" Rose's mouth twisted.
"Ah, well, kind of." He rubbed his neck.
She laughed. "Well, I'm impressed and more so if you get us out of here."
He grinned wide. "Working on it."
Rose's head snapped around. "Hey, how special was this temple?"
"Very!" His eyebrows reached his hairline. "You mean?"
She nodded empathetically. "Special enough to create traps to keep people away from it?"
"Oh…" He frowned. "Oh! Nah!! You think?" He tapped his chin. "Could be… Maybe – Well!"
Rose shook her head in amusement. "You didn't even think about that."
"Never crossed my mind. I just wanted to show you something very special." His head slumped on his hands. "Oh."
Rose touched his arm gently. "I don't mind. I love it!"
He lifted his head to look at her. "You do?"
"Rock fall and all," she laughed.
He relaxed, grinning from ear to ear.
Rose squeezed his arm as another loud crash shuddered the canyon. Then all was silence. She twisted her head to glance over the bench.
"Hey, did you notice? The rocks stopped."
He peeked over too. "Really? Well, then lets head out of here."
"Fine with me," Rose jumped up, pulled off the Doctor's coat and brushed at some dirt as the Doctor scrambled to his feet. Rose handed him his coat and he pulled it on quickly as he took in his bearings. He extended his hand and together they hopped off the mountain bench.
The trek over the debris and newly placed boulders was harder than the Doctor had anticipated, but soon they were laughing again at their awkward attempts of trying to climb over rocks or skipping over the rumble.
Rose took the lead in tackling a complicated rock pile. After a few attempts, she slid through the tight set of boulders. Landing hard on her feet, she steadied herself and gasped. She had stopped so abruptly that the Doctor bumped into her as he crawled out. His retort was ready to slip off his tongue as he noticed Rose's tense body. With a sinking feeling, he followed her petrified stare.
The entrance was gone. In front of them towered the canyon walls, but where the opening had been boulders the size of houses were piled up.
Rose slumped back into the rock she just had clambered out off.
The Doctor stepped forward to examine the rocks closer. "Oh, well then." He turned to Rose. "That changes things."
"No way out," she whispered aghast.
He bobbed to her side. "I wouldn't quite say it like that."
She gave him a weak smile. "A little challenge for us?"
"Exactly!" He clapped his hands, excited. "No fun without it." He grinned, but Rose rubbed her nose tiredly.
He nudged her. "Oh, come on. You can't be tired after a bit of stone hopping."
Rose looked up. "Trying to impress me again – old man?"
Her laugh rang like crystal bells off the canyon walls at his mock-hurt expression.
"Well, then, fledgling," he extended his arm. "How about you help this mature gentleman solve this problem?"
"With gusto," Rose tugged her arm under his. "And more…" she gave him that look – a shy invitation to step blindly into the unknown.
He looked away quickly. Was he ready yet? Of all the explorations he had done, all the new sights and places he had seen and his constant thrill seeking, he felt reluctant to explore this terrain once again. Ah, there's still so much time for them, he thought.
Rose tugged his arm. "Credit for your thought?"
He turned and smiled down at her. "I'm just so glad I met you!"
Rose blushed happily. "Me too!"
He pulled her into a hug. "Together, we'll find a way out. I promise!"
"Never doubted that," she whispered in his ear. "You'll think of something."
He pulled back gently and took her hand. Let's find the activator."
She grinned. "Any wild guess what it looks like?"
He rubbed his chin.
"Silver – maybe?" she asked.
He turned to look at her surprised. "What makes you say that?"
"Dunno," she twisted a strand of hair. "Most machines we encounter are silvery metally thingy things."
He nodded absentmindedly. "Good point, but the Monorianshian preferred rock and wood."
"Oh, should have figured that." Rose let go of the strand and pointed around. "Well, just a few rocks around us – pick and choose."
He scrutinized her for a long moment til she shifted uneasily. "Twas a joke."
"No!" He grabbed her shoulders and shook her enthusiastically. "That's brilliant! Marvelous! Excellent!"
She beamed. "Tis?"
He nodded eagerly. "It has to be right under our noses."
"What do we look for?" Rose asked eagerly as his excitement pasted on to her.
"The mechanism has to be hidden behind or inside the stones, otherwise we would have noticed."
"Does writing count too?" Rose looked at him expectantly. "There were some pictographs around here."
"Yeah, over there somewhere," Rose pointed to a niche in the black rockface to their right.
"Let's have a look." He took her hand and strode over to a tear in the rock. On each side of the opening were faded pictographs. Intrigued, the Doctor pulled out his glasses to have a better look. Tucked away in the crevasse of the black rock were more pictographs. The Doctor let go of Rose's hand and squeezed through the gap.
"What do you see?" Rose asked from the cave entrance.
"They are Monorianshian – for sure!" he answered not taking his eyes of the images.
"Can you touch them?" Rose leaned in blocking out the light.
"Mmh," he answered, distracted, fishing for his sonic screwdriver.
Realizing she didn't get any answer of him, she fell back and slid down the rockface.
"Guess I'll just be waiting here, then."
"I heard that!" came a muffled reply.
She grinned. "Good."
"Heard that too!"
"Anything you'd like to share?" She replied innocently.
His head shot out of the crevasse. She looked up as its shadow graced her.
"Nothing happens if you touch them," he informed her.
"Oh," she said, disappointed. "So, I'll be resting here a whole bit longer then." Her head sank down on her knees as she hugged them.
"BUT…"another shadow wiggled frantically over her and she tilted her head. A big grin illuminated his face while he juggled his sonic screwdriver in his hand.
Rose raised her eyebrow.
"I haven't tried this one yet!"
Rose didn't bother to answer, but her face clearly said what she was thinking.
He sighed. "A little more enthusiasm, please, if these pictographs are what I think they are – you better get in here."
Rose's eyes widened. "In there? With you!"
Now it was his turn to look innocently. "Unless you want to be squashed by rocks…"
This got his desired reaction. Excitement flashed in Rose's eyes and she jumped up.
"You found a way?"
"To reverse it!" he boasted.
The Doctor held out a hand to help Rose as she crawled into the crevasse.
He held his screwdriver high for her to see where she was heading. "All on board?"
"Ah, yeah – kind of." She eyed the tight space.
He twisted his head to see if he could still reach the images. "Kind of doesn't work. Come closer."
Rose raised her eyebrows, but obeyed.
"Now hold on," he embraced her while aiming the screwdriver over her head at the pictographs. "All I have to do—"
The rumble was deafening and Rose's head was pushed into his chest. Instinctively, he curled himself around her as the rocks came crashing down. Wedged in between the slanting rocks, they tumbled around like clothes in a dryer. Rose screamed and he tightened his grip.
Then all stopped. Swiftly, the walls moved apart expelling them like unwanted food. Screaming, they landed in the mud beside the bubbling creek.
Shifting his weight, the Doctor pushed himself up onto his hands and looked down at Rose, who looked as startled as he felt. Her mouth twitched as her body shook under him.
"You okay?" he asked, but instead of an answer Rose burst into laughter. A grin spread over his face as he rolled off to the side and sprang to his feet. He extended his hand. Still laughing, Rose took it and jumped up.
"You did it," she puffed between hysteric shrieks.
"I did." Smugly he inflated his chest.
Without warning, Rose threw herself into his arms nearly toppling him over.
"We did it!" They hop-danced in wild circles.
Beside them the creek was bubbling joyfully, the tight canyon was open again as the sun set the sky on fire.
"Let's move out," the Doctor suggested, taking Rose's hand.