Disclaimer: I don't own what you recognise; the drill should be familiar to you by now

Feedback: I'd appreciate it; I'm trying to do something a bit different here

AN: Another jump forward, this one featuring an audio companion, which I hope will meet with your approval despite its brevity; we're coming up to a particular set of events, and I thought the Doctor and Amy could do with a break before getting into that…

The History of Paradox

"Here we are!" the Doctor said, grinning as he opened the doors to reveal an underground cavern, well-formed but clearly very old, lit by various fiery torches that managed to provide a comforting sense of illumination along with adding a surprisingly comforting atmosphere to the location.

"Where are we?" Amy asked, as she walked out of the ship after her friend.

"The planet Peladon," the Doctor said, grinning proudly as he looked at Amy. "After Earth, it's one of my favourites; a rich cultural history with some very friendly inhabitants… although I'd recommend you call yourself a princess if anyone asks; they were relaxing about those rules last time I was here, but never hurts to be prepared."

"Right…" Amy said, looking uncertainly at the Doctor; he'd told her that he had something interesting in mind, but this seemed a bit basic for the engaging trip he'd promised. "And… why are we here?"

"Well…" the Doctor said, looking at her with a slightly awkward grin, "after the mess we ran into at our last stop, I thought you'd appreciate somewhere where I can guarantee that you won't be disturbed, so I thought here would be a good choice; it's at a relatively peaceful state of affairs right now, and I know a few people in the right places."

Amy was about to ask who those were, but the Doctor didn't even give her a chance to ask the question instead walking along the corridor with a confidence about him that left Amy with no real other option but to follow him. After a period of walking along corridors that were so complicated Amy had no idea how anyone could find their way around this place, they finally approached a larger door with an elaborate purple curtain draped over it, with two men standing outside in some kind of strange armour that Amy didn't recognise.

"Just dropping in; no need to announce me," the Doctor said, pulling out the psychic paper and flashing it briefly at the guards before putting it back in his pocket and walking through the door, Amy sticking close behind him out of a lack of anything else for her to do.

As they entered the room on the other side, Amy found herself looking at what could only be a throne, a tall woman sitting in it dressed in long purple robes. She had dark skin that suggested at a long time in the sun and close-cropped dark hair, cut in a style that reminded Amy of the traditional image of Cleopatra in history books, and was looking at the two new arrivals in an imperial manner.

"Who are you?" she said, a slight accent to her tone that Amy felt like she should recognise. "What are you doing here?"

"Hello, Erimem," the Doctor said, grinning as he looked at the woman despite the stare she was giving him in return.

"What?" the woman said, looking pointedly at him, her glare intensifying as she stared at the Time Lord. "Who are you?"

"I'm the Doctor," the Doctor said, still grinning at her, evidently unconcerned about her reaction to him.

"The Doctor?" the woman who was apparently called Erimem repeated, looking at him incredulously.

"Come on, you're Peladon's Queen; don't tell me you never looked up the stories about my previous visits?" the Doctor said, grinning broadly at her. "I had white hair and wore velvet on my first couple of visits, and I was definitely shorter the third time; you'd think all that would make it pretty clear that I'm not always the fair-haired fellow you knew."

"…Doctor?" Erimem said, her initial confusion forgotten as she continued to stare him, a smile broadening on her face as she looked at him.

"In the flesh," the Doctor said, grinning at her. "Good to see you, Erimem."

"It… I feel the same," Erimem said, giving him a brief warm smile before assuming a more serious expression once again- Amy thought she'd seen Erimem move as though about to hug him before stopping herself- as she looked at Amy. "And who is your friend?"

"Erimem, this is Amelia Pond; she's my current companion," the Doctor said, placing a warm hand on Amy's shoulder. "Amy, this is Erimem; one-time pharaoh back in Ancient Egypt, current Queen of Peladon."

"I see," Erimem said, nodding at her as she held out her hand, Amy awkwardly shaking it out of a lack of any other ideas what she could do with it. "It is a pleasure to meet you, Amelia Pond."

"Uh… same to you?" Amy said at last, smiling back at her (She wished she sounded more confident, but what could you say to a queen?). "And… call me Amy."

"I will," Erimem said, nodding at Amy before turning her attention to the Doctor. "Why are you here?"

"Nothing major, I promise; just wanted to show Amy something calm and interesting for a change, and thought this was a good place to do it," the Doctor said, indicating the throne room with a smile. "What can I say; it's been a few centuries since I came here, but I've always liked Peladon."

"That is good to hear," Erimem said, smiling at the Doctor before she looked back at Amy. "In any case, it is dinner soon, and with Pelleas and Alpha away on negotiations, I would have been dining alone, unless you care to join me before I show you around?"

"Dinner with the queen?" the Doctor said, grinning at Erimem. "How can we refuse?"

Amy could only nod eagerly in agreement, her broad grin saying everything that needed to be said as Erimem stood up and led the two of them to a small dining area a short walk from the throne room.

"This is it?" the Doctor asked, looking at Erimem in surprise as they entered the room. "Nice, I know, but… well, isn't it a bit small?"

"And quiet?" Amy added, looking uncertainly at Erimem. "I mean, you seem like a nice person, but I thought queens should… well, shouldn't you have guards?"

"We are deep within the palace, Amy; there is little need for guards this far in, and my people respect my privacy," Erimem explained, smiling at the girl before she looked at the Doctor. "As for the room we are in, this is the private royal dining hall, for those occasions when we wish to converse about personal matters among ourselves; the only way in is through the route we have just taken, or through the caves."

"Caves?" the Doctor said, a grin spreading across his face as he looked over at the other door in the room. "You mean… my other old friend is down there?"

"One of them, at least," Erimem confirmed with a smile, just before the door opened and a creature shuffled in that put Amy in mind of a furry warthog with a rhino-like horn and sharp teeth in place of tusks. The casual smiles on the Doctor and Erimem's faces at least suggested that she wasn't looking at anything dangerous, but Amy wasn't entirely comfortable being in a room with something that large even before it walked over to her.

"What-?!" Amy said, jumping in shock as the creature nuzzled at her, actually sounding like it was laughing as it rubbed its nose against her leg, Amy frozen from the shock after its initial appearance.

"It's all right!" the Doctor said, a reassuring hand on Amy's shoulder as he grinned at her before crouching down to stroke at the large creature's nose, grinning as he did so. "There you are, old boy… how are you, mmm?"

"Aggedor continues to flourish, Doctor," Erimem said, nodding at the Doctor with a smile. "She and her cubs are safe in the caves beneath the palace, and some of them- such as this one- have taken to coming up here when we eat."

"Sneaking a few table scraps, eh?" the Doctor said, the grin still on his face as he reached over to scratch the Aggedor behind the ears before looking over at Amy. "Amy, this is Aggedor, the sacred beast of Peladon; I made friends with this one's parents a few lives back, and they remain very nice company when they're needed."

Stuck for anything else to do, Amy reached out to touch the Aggedor's fur, her hand shaking slightly as she stroked it at first, but gradually relaxing more and more as the creature sat before her, grumbling in pleasure at her movements.

"Lot tamer than they were, aren't they?" the Doctor said, looking curiously at Erimem.

"It has to do with us being there when they were born, I believe," Erimem said. "They have come to recognise that we are their friends more easily than the Aggedors of the past, and they are thus more accepting of us."

"Wow…" Amy said, still staring at the creature, which was increasingly appearing less and less scary and more and more like a large puppy. "It's… it's incredible…"

"In so many ways," the Doctor agreed, smiling warmly at Amy as she sat alongside the Aggedor, crouching down to join her. "I thought the last Aggedor did helping me save Peladon's queen on my second visit, and then I found this one's mother on my third visit- fourth chronologically for Peladon, but that's another story-, ready to give birth after a century-long pregnancy to a new litter…"

"It was a new age for Peladon in so many ways, Doctor," Erimem said, looking warmly at her friend before turning her attention back to the table before them. "In any case, take your seats; we shall be served soon."

As they sat down around the table, Amy still occasionally stroking the Aggedor now curled up at her feet, the Doctor and Erimem fell into discussion about various parts of Peladonian society as the food was brought in, Amy occasionally asking questions when she felt like she understood something but otherwise savouring the unique foods and the equally-unique company before her.

She might not fully follow what her friend was talking about with his friend right now, but she was on a different planet faced with a highly unique creature while having dinner with a queen; what wasn't cool about that?

AN 2: Short, I know, but I felt it appropriate as a 'calm before the storm' moment, as next chapter will see the Doctor and Amy deal with a threat a BIT closer to home...