Summary: The Last Centurion was kept firmly behind a door in Rory's head. He's just a little worried about what might happen when he finally let's the memories out.
Rating: T (for lost limbs and general swording magnificence).
Author's note: This is another memory themed fic, in a similar vein to Wedding Night and Secrets. It is not necessary to read those first, but they do make an unintentional little story arc dealing with Rory's Roman memories. Perhaps now I've finished this one I'll have it out my system and I'll be able to write something else. Chronologically, it comes after America but before they meet the gangers. Pick your spot.
This was written for thegreatsporkwielder, who wanted a story about Rory saving the day by being awesome. This is the swording fic that I promised.
And as always, I'd love to know what you think about this. It's two chapters, and is all finished. The second chapter will be up in a couple of days.
Amy woke up with a headache and a dry mouth.
Great. The hangover from hell. Again. Even her bed felt lumpy and uncomfortable. That was it, she decided. No more alcohol for her. She was going to stick with being the designated driver, and never drink again. It must have been a really good night, though. She could not remember where or what they had been drinking.
Rory was speaking to her, but she tried to bat him away. Did he not realise that she felt dreadful? If he was here, chances were he had been out with her. He should be feeling the same, unless he had been the lucky designated driver and was smugly hangover free.
"Go 'way Rory."
Instead of doing as he was told, Rory shook her by the shoulders and said, "Amy. Please. Wake up."
"Hangover, Rory. Give me another five minutes."
"No. Now, Amy. There's a problem."
The headache was beginning to recede slowly. She opened her eyes to a glare of white light that was definitely not from the bulb on her bedroom roof. It was not even the light above the top bunkbed in the TARDIS.
"Oh, yes. Problem," she said as she remembered.
It had started with an alien ship on the view screen ("Nice aliens. For Rory. Nice blue aliens, although the colour is not important. They've got an interesting line in ballroom dancing. Peaceful, lovely people. Been meaning to visit them for ages"). They had opened the door of the TARDIS and she had been pulled out before she even had a chance to see a blue alien. She was blindfolded, manhandled through miles of corridor then dumped. The last thing she could remember was a sweet smell in the air and Rory saying, "Is that poisonous gas?" She did not know what had happened to the Doctor.
Then she was being woken up with a headache like the worst hangover ever.
She used Rory to pull herself up to sit. "Okay, now that hurts. Are you all right? And where's the Doctor?"
"Yeah, I'm okay. And so was the Doctor when I saw him last, probably still with the TARDIS. He was cross. Really cross, but not hurt or anything. Of course, they did tie him up and gag him, so definitely a lot quieter than usual. I think he was worried about us. But he's the least of our problems at the moment."
She looked beyond Rory's worried face to the room they were seated in. The walls were painted in matt grey, scratched in places with words and numbers. Only some of the writing translated, and most of it was curse words and things like 'Effie was here'. There were no windows, and the only door was featureless grey steel.
The floor was worse. She wished she could un-see it, as it was the stuff of nightmares and bad B-movie horrors. Bones were scattered across it; skulls, ribs, long and short bones and some tiny little ones that looked like fingers. Most were bleached white, but some were almost orange. There had been different species here, she thought. Ragged material covered some of the bones; probably old clothing. There were metal buckles and shoes. She could see a breast plate, sword and helmet in one corner, and something like a sari in the other.
The word that came to mind was cell.
"All right. It's a cell. Are we locked in? Seen anyone yet?"
"Yeah. I've met them. They're, sort of blue."
He might have said more, but there was an electronic beep from the door and it swished open. The alien standing there was not quite what she had expected.
"Oh, you are an ugly one, aren't you?" she said. Normally that would be considered bad manners, but she had been blindfolded, gassed and was now a prisoner in a cell full of bones. She thought that a bit of cheek was the least they deserved.
The alien was a shade of blue that reminded her of a Crayola crayon from her pencil box as a kid. It had been a light blue called Cornflower, and it had always been left in the bottom of the case because it was not TARDIS blue. If the skin was Cornflower blue, the three eyes in the centre of the face were more of a Lemon Yellow. It was human height, and vaguely human shaped except for the extra leg and third arm. It had a slim tail that flicked like an angry cat's. Clutched in the three fingered hand was a black metallic object that was unmistakably some kind of gun.
"Okay," she said. "That is a problem."
"You are both awake. You are not dead. You will wait here," Cornflower said. The voice sounded male, deep and powerful like a singer in an opera pop-group.
"No. We're not staying her. Not with the scary bones and the dead people," Amy said angrily. "You take us right out of here and back to the Doctor, or, so help you I will..."
"Amy," Rory said. "I tried that the last time it came in."
"No offence, but I am way more threatening than you are."
The alien made a deep, bellowing noise that might have been laughter. "Neither of you are very threatening, children. But I am glad you are both functional and unbroken. Damaged merchandise requires a mark-down that is not good for business. So, as I said, you will stay here. I will make enquiries as to your species and the going rate in the Slave Markets of Ridisti."
He left through the cell door. The lock opened with a small electric fob attached to its belt like a janitor's set of keys. Amy would have lunged at it, but her balance was a little compromised by the poison gas. Rory was still having to hold her up.
"Now what?" Rory said when they were alone again. He was gazing at the dead things as if looking for inspiration.
"We get out of here, we rescue the Doctor and we find the TARDIS," Amy said. "I'm just not so sure how."
An hour later they were no closer to an answer. Amy had paced, fumed, shouted and sulked and they were still no further forward.
"I hate waiting," she yelled, at the closed door for the hundredth time. "Maybe you could just come in here and shoot us and put us out of our misery!"
She kicked the door and gave it a punch with one of her fists for good measure. It hurt, but that was not so bad. At least it was doing something.
"You, Cornflower, in here, now! What have you done with the Doctor? Because when he finds out and gets free, you are going to be in so much trouble that you'll wish you'd never been born. And then you'll wish that your grandparents hadn't been born because he's a time traveller and he can do these things and..."
"Amy," Rory said quietly.
"Don't interrupt. I'm in full flow here and..." She stopped as she looked at him. His expression was very serious. He looked like he'd made a decision about something, and he was not happy about it. "What is it?"
"I've got a plan."
"What kind of plan?"
"A really, really bad plan. One of those plans that makes me wish the Doctor was here, because he'd have a better one. But I can't think of anything else. I'm going to open a door."
"You can't open the door. It's locked. I've been hitting it for an hour."
"I don't mean that door. Another one. I can't explain it now, but when they come back in, you need to distract them for a minute..."
Before he could say more, the alien was back. With company.
They stood in the doorway. One was Cornflower. The smaller one was a darker shade; more like a Navy Blue crayon. It stood with the unmistakeably threatening air of a short bouncer at a nightclub. The six eyes stared into the room unblinking. The little one had a gun pointed at Amy and Rory. Cornflower said, "You, children, are fortunate today. The slave markets have confirmed your species as hu-man. Healthy specimens can be sold at auction for up to ten thousand Galactic Credits."
"Fortunate! Great. You can sell us. I feel really fortunate." Distract them, Rory had said. She would try her best.
"There are other options. You would not like them."
"Are you trying to scare us? Is that what happened to them? Did you use your other options?" Amy demanded, pointing at the bones that scattered the floor.
"Them? Yes. They were our previous aquisitions. Some species just do not sell at the slave markets. Feeding and keeping prisoners cost money. This is just economics."
"And what about the Doctor?"
"He is a special order. There is an outstanding bounty on the last of the Time Lords in this part of the Galaxy. We have confirmed that the buyer is still active and will pay us ten years profit. It will be enough to refit our ship and build up our crew again. I am sorry that you became entangled in this business opportunity, however, you may be lucky. I hear hu-mans have a reputation for excellent and interesting service, and you may find yourselves good homes. Now, my colleague will see you to your new quarters where you will be prepared for the market."
Navy Blue pointed the gun at Amy and waved towards the door.
"Amy. Get out of the way," Rory said.
She had been so busy distracting the aliens, she had not looked at him. She did so now. He was reaching for something on the floor. His shoulders were tense and there was a look in his eye that she had never seen before. It reminded her of what she had said to Cornflower about being threatening.
Suddenly, Rory did look like a threat.
"Children. You should do what you are told."
"Amy," Rory said again. "Get out of the way."
"What are you doing?" Cornflower asked.
"Yes, Rory, what are you doing?" Amy asked too, but she moved to the side a little. She spotted what he was reaching for; the sword that was still half hidden beside the breastplate and helmet.
"Look, this isn't going to be like the Vampire Fish is it? 'Cause they had swords, but these guys have guns!"
"No. It's not going to be like that at all." His voice was cold and... she struggled to find in the word... professional. It did not sound like her Rory at all.
He moved slowly and deliberately while staring at the aliens. Without hesitation, he put his hand on the hilt. He lifted it to test its weight. The grip was awkward for a human hand and the blade was too long to seem proportional, but he seemed satisfied by it. He angled the point towards the floor. "You don't really want to hurt us, do you? I mean, that would make it more difficult to sell us. Like damaged goods, you'd have to do a mark down or something. That wouldn't be such good economics."
"Agreed," Cornflower said. "You should not do anything stupid. Sometimes slave owners can be most generous. You could have a good life. Perhaps someone will be able to buy both of you and you will be able to keep your lady. I'm sure some creatures may find it most... interesting."
"No. I don't think we'll do that. We're leaving now. You are going to take us back to our friend, and we'll go and you never have to see us again. It's a good deal. Please."
"That is not a good deal. Damaged merchandise is better than none at all. How are we supposed to make any profit if you just fly away in your little blue box? Now, granted, we won't get anything like as much for the two of you as we will for your friend, no matter how pretty and pink you are, but there is a reasonable profit to be made. I calculate fifty per cent loses could be absorbed into financial outlay. So you should go with my colleague."
"I thought you'd say something like that."
"Ensure they realise that we are not making empty threats. Shoot the girl. Something non-fatal, perhaps a leg..."
The alien raised its gun. Amy was about to shout out, but Rory was faster. Far faster than Amy thought possible. One moment the sword was hanging idly from his hand, the next it was moving in a blur that was too quick for her eye to catch. It intersected with the barrel just as the alien was about to press the trigger, then the gun seemed to leap out of the alien's hand and fly across the room into a pile of bones in the corner.
Rory brought the point of the sword to the top of an arc, then it swung back into a fighting stance. The point was inches away from Navy Blue's eyes. It hung there full of menace. There was no doubting the intent. He was ready to fight.
"Both of you," Rory said. "Don't make any sudden moves. Put your hands in the air. Or, I promise, this one gets more than a leg wound." He edged the sword forward an inch or so until it most touched the alien's middle eye.
Amy was further back, and in a better position to see both aliens. She could see Cornflower moving its hand down towards the gun holstered on its belt.
"Rory, watch out!" she shouted.
She realised she was too late. Rory had seen, and was reacting before she had opened her mouth.
Without seeming to move at all, he brought the sword down. It was a efficient movement without dramatic flare. One minute the alien was touching the gun, the next Rory's sword had cut off the whole hand. The severed limb splatted to the floor, followed by the clatter of the gun. With the same speed and sparsity of movement he brought the sword back to eye level, and this time balanced it in front of Cornflower's eye. The alien was quivering and making a small squealing noise. Green fluid dripped off the sharpened edge of the sword.
"I said don't move. You should have listened." Rory said again.
"Not. Not!" Cornflower said. "Not moving!"
Navy Blue said, "Not. I not."
"Rory?" Amy started to say, but he interrupted.
"Get the guns."
She scampered to collect the gun that had been thrown across the room first. Then she picked up the other more gingerly. It was covered in the same green gunk that was dripping from the sword. Blood, she thought. She clutched them close, despite the mess.
"Now. Put them in the corner. Under some bones."
"But they're guns. They could be helpful. We've still got to rescue the Doctor."
"Do you know how to fire them? I don't. First rule. A weapon's only as effective as the hand that wields it. We don't know how to use them, so they're useless. Worse than that, really. Put them away."
As she tucked them under a pile of bones, she muttered, "Great. Now you go all Doctor on me. We had guns. Now we don't. And you want to bet the rest of the aliens do?"
"I've got a sword, Amy. That's enough."
And there it was again. A coldness in his voice that Amy did not recognise.
"Now. Give her the keys."
Cornflower removed the electric fob with an uninjured hand, then handed it to Amy without looking away from the sword. The key was a small, featureless thing with a blinking light.
"You are fools if you think you can get off this ship. We may not have our full complement of officers at present, but you are still outnumbered and flying through space," he said. "What do you think you can do against a squadron of our slave collection team? With a strip of metal and a door key?"
"We don't need to get off your ship. We're going to get our friend."
She used the key to unlock the door the same way Cornflower had earlier. It opened into a corridor painted the same matt grey. She glanced left and right to confirm it was empty. There was no sign of more aliens. "It's clear."
Rory still had the sword poised. He sidestepped past Cornflower while he held it level with the middle of its three eyes. Neither alien moved. Rory edged around until his back was to the door, then he stepped into the corridor too. Amy slammed the fob against the locking device and it slid closed.
She could hear movements inside. It felt good to think that the aliens were banging on the door in frustration just as she had a moment ago.
For they stood in silence. Amy had a million questions, but she could not think which one to ask first. There was something brittle about the situation. She felt like she was walking on the ice and jumping up and down would break it. And she was Amy Pond. She did not feel like that very often.
"Now what do we do?" she asked quietly, afraid that even that would break the spell.
"They're going to send for reinforcements," Rory said without looking at her. "They must have communication devices, so any minute a whole pile of them are going to come around a corner. It's going to have to be a fight."
"Do you think you can..." she started to ask, but they were interrupted by shouts echoing from the left.
"Okay. That was quick. Give me a second to think."
"Come on," she said, and grabbed Rory's arm to pull him away from the noises. Mercifully that part of the corridor was quiet.
But Rory did not move.
"Rory. Move. We need to get out of here."
"We need to find the TARDIS and the Doctor."
"Agreed. Come on, Rory."
"No. We won't find the TARDIS that way. Don't you see? The aliens were with the TARDIS. Those two radioed for help, so the other ones are coming to get them. All of them. We have to meet them and then get past them. This way."
"You mean, we have to go towards the angry aliens with guns?"
He did not look at her.
"Aliens, Rory. Angry aliens with guns."
"We're in a space ship with tight corridors. It's highly defensible and they don't want to damage the merchandise. That gives us enough of an advantage. And it's easier to pick a position than to have one forced upon you while in retreat. Come on."
He started to walk towards the sounds of approaching aliens. Amy hurried behind in something like shock.
They had only passed a couple of corridors when they met the rest of the aliens. She counted a dozen staring at them. They all had their guns out of their holsters.
"You will return to your cell," one said. An especially tall, Cerise one.
"No," said Rory.
"Put down your weapon, child. It is a strip of metal. These are displacer pistols. We would prefer not to use them. You are quite valuable to us, and it would be better if you were not damaged."
"Amy. Get back. I mean it this time."
"No way. I'm not leaving you here."
"It wasn't a question," he snapped. "Do it now. Please!"
Amy moved back. Every part of her cried out not to leave Rory alone, but there was something about the tone of his voice which scared her into obedience.
"Little boy," the blue alien said. "Put down your toy and go back to your cell."
"This is the last time I'll warn you," Rory said in that cold, not-Rory voice. "Stand down. Get out of my way."
The aliens shared a glance at each other. Cerise smiled, baring rows of sharp pointed teeth.
"Okay. I warned you," Rory said.
What happened next was impossible. Amy could not imagine how it happened, yet the noise and smell and sight of it bombarded her senses. It was hard to follow, like one of those scenes in a movie where they show the action from multiple angles so the audience can keep track.
The main problem was that it was Rory. Or, at least, someone who looked like her plain, ordinary, gorgeous Rory, but was obviously someone else entirely.
Only Cerise actually had its weapon raised into a threatening posture, so he went for that one first. His sword was moving faster than Amy could watch, and faster, it seemed, that his opponent could follow. The alien loosed one round, but Rory had anticipated that and had sidestepped before it fired. In a fluid motion, the gun was swiped from the creature's hand and bounced harmlessly to the floor. The return swing took the blade through its arm. The severed limb fell to the ground and the creature screamed.
For a second Amy could not take her eye off the arm as it leaked green fluid on the deck. The fingers still twitched a little and Amy wanted to scream louder than the alien.
When she looked back up at Rory, he was holding back the crowd of aliens almost, it seemed, with ease. This was not glamorous fencing like the Olympics, or that clever acrobatic sword fighting that happened in films. This was business; a workman-like stab and thrust that lacked finesse, but by jove, it got the job done. Aliens fell to the swipe of the sword each time Rory moved, or were caught by the powerful stabs that thrust into their bodies.
The aliens had their guns out, but seemed reluctant to fire, as if they could not quite decide where Rory might be next. The narrow corridor meant that none of them had enough room to aim without risking their fellows being caught in the crossfire. A couple loosed shots, but they were carelessly targeted and never seemed to cause a danger.
All the time screaming filled the air and the floor became slick with green fluid.
Rory pierced a short sky blue alien through the shoulder and had pulled the sword loose even before the shock crossed its face. Another shoved forward and raised its gun. Rory used the momentum from pulling the sword free to swing around and smack the flat of blade across its face.
Amy could not keep track of the number of aliens that felt the sword, but each one that did fell to the ground. Some writhed or cried out, but others did not. As she looked at them from the relative safety of her position, one met her eye. It stared at her, and she realised that there was fear in its eyes. Then it squeezed them closed tightly as if it could pretend to be dead.
Now the injured were now causing problems of their own. They clogged up the corridor and reduced the space for movement. This was equally an issue for the aliens as much as it was for Rory. The sheer press of numbers, obscurely, had been Rory's advantage. Now, though, he had to pay attention to where he stepped. The floor was littered with bodies and fallen guns. Green ichor covered everything.
There were fewer aliens now standing, and those must have been the smarter ones. Two moved towards Rory over their fallen comrades. They were moving together and their guns were drawn. Rory could not take out both at the same time.
His sword dipped as if from exhaustion. He glanced behind him, but did not look at Amy. He was looking at the floor, perhaps to find a way out.
"Rory!" Amy yelled. She was too far away to help, but started to run forward.
He stepped back. His foot touched a slick puddle of green fluid. In slow motion, he seemed to slip and fall backwards.
Amy yelled again. She was still too far away.
He hit the floor and scrambled at something. Amy saw the aliens share a look and bring up their guns.
Without meaning to, she squeezed her eyes closed. She should watch. She knew she should, but her heart could not bear seeing Rory killed again.
Then, bam! Two short concussions filled the air and her ears rattled with the pressure change. Guns.
When she opened her eyes it took a moment for her brain to process what it could see. Unexpectedly, the two aliens were no longer standing. They were lying in among their comrades and leaking more fluid on the deck.
There was a small puff of steam from a gun, but it was not in an alien's grip. Rory had one of the discarded guns clutched in his left hand still in a firing position. He aimed it at the only alien left standing. It took one last look at them with something that might have been terror in its expression. Then it ran.
The corridor was strangely quiet, despite the panting and pained noises of the aliens. Rory stood up. Without looking at the injured and bleeding creatures at his feet, he checked Amy from top to toe.
"Are you all right?" he asked.
She did not know what question to ask first. She had no idea what had happened. So she said the first thing that came into her mind, "I thought you didn't know how to use the guns?"
"I improvised. It doesn't mean I had to like it." But he stuck the gun into pocket of his jeans with the grip in easy reach.
"Are you going to use it again?"
"Not if I can help it. Okay. Come on. We can't stay here. They might be going to get reinforcements."
"How many do you think were on the ship? There can't be that many more."
"They always send more. They don't seem to know when to stop." His voice was quiet, as though he was remembering something from long ago.
"Hey," she said softly and touched his hand. It was a relief to find his skin warm.
He shook his head as if clearing a memory. "No, sorry. Wrong time. We need to find the Doctor and the TARDIS."
They stepped over the wounded aliens. None of them moved. Amy glared at those who were still conscious, but Rory walked past the bodies as though they were not there. Somehow, that was scarier than the fighting had been.