The Storyteller

The Thief

The Doctor leaned closer towards Amy.

"It's just a story, Amy," he whispered. His smile implied "gotcha" but he wasn't going to call her on it here. Not in her condition. That wouldn't have been exactly fair.

"But then again, we're all stories in the end. Stories unwritten, unfinished, uncredited, untitled..."

He started fidgeting with his cufflinks.

"All stories have endings," Amy said.

The Doctor's cheek curled into a half smile and his voice croaked. "Yes, they do."

"But...endings can also be beginnings," he added.

Amy was puzzled. "Of what?"

The Doctor paused for thought.

"If I could answer that question, I wouldn't be here," the Doctor said. "It's questions, Amy. Sometimes they can get me too excited. I can lose sight of what's right in front of me."

He then apologized for slapping Amy's leg. Again.

"Get on with your story, Doctor."

You're hooked then.

"No, it just distracts me from the pain. When this is over, Doctor..."

Yeah, we'll have ice-cream and jammie dodgers in a galaxy far far away. Somewhere safe. I promise.

But for now we're still in turn of the century Paris, driving down crooked lanes in a horse-drawn carriage while in pursuit of a plume of smoke in the distance. Electric motor cars sped past us at double speed.

With the very first motor cars came the very first anti-social drivers.

Then my attention was drawn away. We passed the Père Lachaise Cemetery and I couldn't help but look with respect. A lot of old friends of mine would be buried there.

I suddenly got quite agitated. Nothing like me, but I'm known to be quite grumpy.

"Come on!" I told the driver. "Time waits for no man!"

"Although it did once, just for me," I added to Marie. She thought she'd figured me out by now. It took me a while to figure out how I could use that to my advantage.

With quick beats and lots of ruthless lashes against the horses's flesh we soon arrived into the shadow of the warehouse where a tree had been set ablaze. I jumped from the carriage, immediately suspicious.

"You were wrong, Doctor," Marie said, following in my wake. "There's nothing here. It's just a fire."

Firemen were cordoning off the area while I scanned the perimeter by turning on the spot.

"Doctor?" Marie asked. As I was suspicious of the situation she couldn't help but be suspicious of me. I wondered whether she'd read my file and so I asked her.

"Did you read my file?"

"Pardon?"

Water and fire clashed behind me, turning a once beautiful tree into a skeleton of ash.

"Did you read my file?" I said. "I just want to know if you trust me."

I had such high hopes for Marie, one way or another, but she wasn't exactly displaying her best skills so far. I had to plan ahead.

She had been with me every step of the way so far. My guide throughout the city, my keeper, my babysitter... At least the general finally listened to some of my suggestions.

Unleashing me was the best thing he could've done.

"What does your file have to do with it?" she asked.

I tutted. "If you'd read the file you would've known." I said.

Marie made up her mind. Her kind face proved to be her greatest asset.

"No," she said. "I don't trust you."

"Of course you don't. A rookie mistake."

Did I mention how much I loved introductions? But if there's anything I love more than introductions, than it's a good monologue!

"There's a reason why this tree's on fire, Marie, and it isn't coincidence, nor is it the hand of God. Notice how there's not a single other thing caught in the blaze. Just one tree. Burning. Just one. Not a city, not a forest..."

"It's a distraction," Marie said. "But for what?"

"Is there anything around here worth stealing, Marie? Anything at all?"

I waited for her to get her epiphany. It's usually worth it to see the light of intelligence flicker in someone's eyes. Like they won the lottery.

She finally looked over my shoulder like I had planned. My position in the streets was vital and so was the big building down the street. A flag sticking in a model city and a burning bush told me there was something worth stealing in that warehouse.

It was a robust building. Every third window had been bricked up and all the others were barred and shut, while the roof had become a gathering ground for pigeons.

I knew that by the time we would find it it'd be gone. Another clue whisked away just when I would get my hands on it. And with only six and a half hours left.

Then it had been my turn to follow in Marie's wake as she flashed her papers at the soldiers guarding the front gates. Our entourage followed suit.

The overwhelmed caretaker, charged with safeguarding the object, was in a state of panic when we arrived and it only affirmed my deductions. Someone had been here.

The thieves created a local disturbance with their simple distraction and then put their plan into motion. It had been perhaps a half hour since the thieves had been here and it had been like they had pulled the rug from under the feet of at least ten guards.

In this case the rug was made of a 2 feet of solid cement.

"Inform the general at once," Marie told the cowardice caretaker when she spotted the giant hole in the ground where a floor used to be.

"The Romans used to dig tunnels underneath their enemy's wall defences and then let it collapse," I said. "And the walls would come crumbling down."

"They used dynamite," Marie concluded. (We weren't talking about Romans anymore. Is no-one interested in history anymore?) My sense of smell had a theory of its own.

"They're in the mines, Doctor. Squad six and seven were last reported entering those very mines."

I finally realized the threat to this world had been hiding underneath us all this time.

"The tunnels are extensive. They go on for many kilometres. We'll never catch them."

"No." I said. We didn't need to. Not yet, anyway. There were questions that needed to be answered first.

I found the hands of experts in the dirt and a keen eye in the use of the unstable foundations of the city. This had been a carefully planned attack, purpose driven...They could've destroyed the building entirely. This was...

"...expertly achieved." I concluded out loud. "Even passionately. They could've blown up the street to get what they wanted, yet they chose silence. No bloodshed. No fuss. They didn't even leave a note."

"Ten people died!" Marie cried but they had been irrelevant.

Irrelevant?

To them, not to me!

"They were in the way," I said. "They didn't care about blood. They only came for what they wanted. So what did they want? What was in here?"

I crawled out of the pit with blackened hands and dirt on my face.

"How did you know, Doctor?" Marie asked. "About the theft?"

"I didn't," I said and I waited until she would figure it out.

"You couldn't have known the burning tree was part of the plan," she said. "Doctor! You just said it was so you could enter the warehouse. You tricked me."

"You got me."

The look on her face was worth all the risks.

"I took an educated guess..."

She could barely hold herself from smiling at me, while I was standing there blackened with dirt from the pit. I knew she'd like a bad boy.

"Do you trust me?" I asked again.

Marie smiled. "No."

"You're lying."

"So were you."

A measure of respect was all we needed for now.

"Come along, Doctor," she said and Marie lead the way back to the elevator.

For all I knew they had you locked up inside a refrigerator somewhere screaming for help. I didn't know you had escaped. I didn't know about Jack.

Another piece of the puzzle had just been carried away into the dark stolen by persons unknown for purposes unrevealed.

It would all come together sooner than I thought. Sooner than I could handle.

As I recall, Jack was about to get closer to the truth than any of us, and apparantly you were manhandling a People's employee with a gun in the men's lavatory of a small café, pressing him for information...

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