ONE FALSE MOVE
'It's a sandbox,' Ace insisted as she slung her bomber jacket over her shoulder and hooked his umbrella on her belt as she looked down at the Doctor. 'C'mon Professor, how much longer are you gonna play?'
The Doctor turned around and glared up at Ace. 'I'm not playing, Ace. This is serious.' He grabbed his umbrella, unhooking it and putting it on the ground beside in one swift motion before turning back to his pile of sand. 'Contrary to what you're thinking…'
Ace cut him off. 'You don't know what I'm thinking.'
He moved the umbrella in the sand, pushing it around in what appeared to be a random pattern. 'You think this is just a worthless pile of sand. But this, Ace, this is the very future of this planet at stake.'
Ace knelt down beside him. 'How can I help?'
'Just be quiet and let me concentrate.' She stood up and walked off to one side, making sure to stay out of the Doctor's way. He continued speaking, his voice soft. 'These things require the most delicate of hands. One wrong move and Earth as you know it will cease to exist.'
'You need to step away from the area! Stand up, with your hands up in the air where I can see them!' The gun leveled in their direction by a pair of shaking hands tried to keep it steady.
The Doctor lifted his hands slowly and started to stand up. 'Now there's no need for such extreme measures. I'm sure we can come to some agreement here.'
Turning around, the Doctor was able to get a good look at the person pointing the gun at them. It appeared to be a young girl, about Ace's age, but the Doctor knew instantly that this was an Anderian wearing a human perception filter.
'I'm trying to help you and your fellow Anderian get home. Safely, without harming the population on this planet in the process.'
'This planet means nothing. I am charged with getting my Queen home.'
'Yes, and if you'll let me, I'll help you with that.'
'You're of no use to us, humanoid.'
Another familiar voice came from behind the Anderian, causing the Doctor to smile. 'I think you'll find there are more people that disagree with that statement than you'd care to believe.' A pair of hands quickly snaked around the Anderian and slipped the gun from her hands. 'Now, all we want to do is help you get home.' Sarah Jane turned to the Doctor and smiled. 'I'll let you get back to it then, Doctor.' She then turned to Ace and tossed the gun to her. 'You may want to make sure there isn't anyone else lurking about.'
'How long have we got?' Ace asked Sarah.
Sarah glanced at her watch. 'Less than ten minutes, I'd say before the next freighter passes through. We need to get them on it now. The next one doesn't pass for another thirty years and I don't think either of our friends would care to stay here for that long.'
The look of disgust on the Anderian's face was obvious. At a nod from the Doctor, Ace started looking around, following Sarah's instructions about seeing if anyone else was lurking about. Sarah reached into her pocket and handed a small device to the Doctor as he knelt back down. 'See if this will help.'
The Doctor looked up at her and gave her a quick smile, then busied himself with using the sand-like substance to create an exact signal to transport the Anderian and her Queen to the passing transport ship. Ten minutes later, when both Anderian's were safely on their way home, the Doctor stood up and dusted the remaining sand off of his knees. 'That was close.'
Sarah nodded, even as Ace came back around the corner. 'Closer than I like.'
'What was all that about, Professor?'
The Doctor sighed. 'Transport or die about sums it up.' He turned to Sarah. 'It's a good thing you were close by, Sarah.'
Ace slipped on her bomber jacket and handed the Anderian weapon back to the Doctor. 'Of course it's not like you're not always glad to see her.' Ace smiled broadly and quickly enveloped Sarah in a warm hug. 'It's good to see you again, Sarah Jane.'
'And you, Ace.' Sarah nodded towards the Doctor. 'I see you're still struggling on keeping him out of trouble.'
'You know how it is.'
The Doctor cleared his throat. 'I am still here.'
Sarah laughed and turned towards him. 'So you are. And I for one am glad tonight's crisis is averted.'
'I have an idea.' The Doctor extended one arm to Ace and the other to Sarah. 'In fact, the more I think about it, the more perfect it sounds. Come along, you two, somewhere out there, the tea's getting cold.'
'We can't have that, can we?' Ace replied as she hooked her arm through the Doctor's.
'Not at all.' Sarah looped her arm through the other one the Doctor had on offer. 'I know the perfect place.'
'Peaceful?' Ace asked.
'Very. I know all the best places around here,' Sarah responded with a smile as the three of them walked off, arm in arm.