The Doctor hung from the tree branch, like the last cow carcass in the slaughterhouse. His hanging legs in the tartan pants were an attractive target to the mutant mouse monster. The Mutant leapt again; keen to lock its sharp canines onto the Doctor's legs. At last minute the Doctor lifted his legs, narrowing missing the literal jaws of death. With a great deal of the effort, the Doctor managed to get a leg over the branch he was clutching and scrambled on top of it. Panting from the exhaustion and from the dump of adrenaline into his body, the Doctor turned to Artemis.
"Lucky Kaden-Wood trees have strong branches otherwise I may have been mouse food."
Artemis in the branch below scowled down at the rodent, who was currently clawing away at the tree trunk. The creature had given up on trying to jump for the trapped pair of Gallifreyans. Instead it was using it’s sharp claws to try and cut the tree down but was having limited success. The tree rocked back and forward under the Mutants efforts. Artemis knew it was only a matter of time before it succeed.
"Indeed, I'm sorry you had to become involved in this Doctor. This is not your fight" stated Artemis.
"What do you mean 'not my fight'? That mutant was hunting me as well as you" complained the Doctor.
"Not you Doctor, me. That creature has been hunting me ever since I arrived back on Gallifrey" explained Artemis.
"What!” The Doctor looked at Artemis with interest. His blue eyes seemed to brim over in curiosity.
Artemis turned her head and stared up at the Doctor, her eyes as old as time itself, boring holes into the Doctor's soul.
"This ends now!"
Artemis leapt down from the tree with the grace of a gymnast. She landed in a crouch beside mouse monster. The monster stood bewildered for a moment, before letting out a snarl, filling the air with its hot rabid breath. Artemis stood and stared at the mutant mouse, daring it to kill her. The monster needed no encouragement. It charged at her, putting all its energy into a tackle that would take Artemis to the ground.
But before the Monster could lay so much as claw on Artemis, she ducked out of the Monsters way and it could do nothing but thrash at empty air. Unable to stop the leap in mid-air, the monster flew through the air and crashed into the trunk of a nearby Kaden-Wood tree. Despite it's the earth shattering collision with a tree, the monster picked itself up and howled. Artemis smirked and raised her arm to make a beckoning gesture with her hand. The mutant mouse roared a blood curdling cry that seemed to shake the forest around them.
It charged becoming a black streak, heading right for Artemis. At the last moment Artemis stepped out of the way of the charging monster's path. The Doctor from his high perch marvelled at Artemis, she seemed to know exactly where monster was going to be before the creature made its charge. The mutant mouse again it tried to stop its momentum but slammed into the trunk of another tree. The monster got up charged again and again. Each time Artemis was a step ahead and each time the Monster slammed into a tree. Until the mutant mouse gave up and left, running from the frightening woman with the ancient brown eyes. The Doctor climbed down from the tree and gave Artemis a round of applause.
"I must say that was impressive to say the least. How did you do that, move faster than that savage beast?"
Artemis gave her first warm smiled at the Doctor and his curiosity at all things new.
"I have forgotten the curiosity of the young" humoured Artemis.
The Doctor straightened and brushed some silver leafs from his coat.
"I'll have you know that I am one hundred and three. In some people's eyes I'm positively ancient" pronounced the Doctor.
"Maybe to the residents of Sol 3 but on Gallifrey your still a baby" teased Artemis.
The Doctor snorted.
"A baby, I resent that. I've had enough of old men calling me a child. I didn't take it from them and I won't take it from you. You're avoiding my question"
The Doctor crossed his arms and frowned obtusely at Artemis.
Artemis sighed at the impatience of the young.
"Life has patterns that can be exploited for those who know how. The movements of a creature as simple as a mouse are easy to predict" answered Artemis.
"Ha poppycock, life itself doesn't follow rules. Sure there are some things that can be predicted but others are dictated by chaos" snubbed the Doctor.
Artemis shook her head.
"What do they teach you at the Academy? Just because you do not see an order to things does not mean an order does not exist."
"But-" started the Doctor, but Artemis interrupted him.
"What do you know about gravity? Such a simple thing" questioned Artemis?
"It is the force of attraction" replied the Doctor carefully.
"Who made it? Who made that force that makes one body attract another" asked Artemis?
"No one, it's a natural force of the universe" answered the Doctor.
"What is gravity, what is its substance" demanded Artemis?
"Gravity has no substance" replied the Doctor.
"It has no substance, it is not a physical thing but yet it exists. It has no substance but is far more powerful than any weapon, any planet and any sun. It is the prime mover, the cause of all things. It is the deep sublime intelligence of the universe. An where there is intelligence, there is a pattern, where there's a pattern there is predictably. Once you acknowledge this, you can predict the movements of the universe.”
The Doctor’s frowned was gone to be replaced by look of awe and was only able to give a one word in reply.
"Where people see the bird, you must see the flock" answered Artemis.
The two Galifreyans stood in silences, listening to the normal noises of the forest as Pazithi Gallifreya filled it with sliver moon light.
"Where are you heading" asked the Doctor?
"The Capitol" Artemis said in way of reply.
"Why the Capitol, just who are you Artemis hrmmm" questioned the Doctor?
"I can't tell you that" hedged Artemis.
The Doctor knew if he pushed her for answers she would never give them. The best tactic would be to stay with her and Artemis herself would lead him to the truth.
"It is too late to walk all the way to the Capitol. Come to my House and you can transmat straight to the Capitol from there" invited the Doctor?
"That is agreeable, which way" asked Artemis?
The Doctor gestured north.
"This way Madam, it isn't far"
They were about to leave when the Doctor stopped and walked over to the tree where the mouse mutant had smashed its head. There was a little bit of red blood staining the trunk. The Doctor reached into his coat and removed a couple of items from the pockets. One was a clear plastic test tube and the other was an item that Artemis recognized as a pen knife.
The Doctor expertly used the pen knife to scrape a bit of blood into the test tube. Placing the pen knife back where it belonged, the Doctor reached in his pocket and found a small stopper which he used to seal the test tube, before proceeding to replace the items back in his pockets. Turning back, the Doctor gave Artemis a reassuring smile.
"I thought would take a sample to be analysed. I know a really good biochemist, who would love to get a sample of this DNA. She's one of the best on Gallifrey if a bit amoral. I can have her analysis the DNA and help us discover the origins of our mouse monster"
Fifteen minutes later the Doctor and Artemis were walking up a steep path towards the House of Lungbarrow. The bricked manor house dotted with circle windows and gothic like towers looked tall and imposing in the moonlight.
"Lungbarrow, isn't your house part of the Prydonian chapter" asked Artemis?
"Yes, quite" replied the Doctor, tersely.
Wanting to change the subject the Doctor pointed below the high ridge to a river far below.
"That is the Cadonflood River; I used to swim there when I was a Time tot with my Cousin Innocent, until our old Housekeeper put her foot down. The ridge where we are standing on is the side of Mount Lung. Not much of mountain really, not nearly as tall as Mount Cadon in the east. They say Cadon's tall enough to touch the transduction barriers."
"Is the Academy still located on Mount Cadon" asked Artemis, conversational?
"The Academy has been up there for eons. Even an avalanche couldn't knock it down from its icy peak. The Teachers there let out more hot air than the Cardinals in the Panopticon, although it did have some redeeming features. Borusa and Azmael were excellent tutors. I also found a teacher that changed my life.”
"Who was your teacher" asked Artemis?
"A wise old Hermit who lived on the top of Mount Cadon, I was thirty nine when I found his hut near the mountains summit. He used to tell me the most wonderful stories. Legends of the Great Vampires, the Toclafane, Zagreus and the Legion of the Sphinx. Epic tales of Gallifrey’s most infamous Time Lords like Rasslion, Omega and Salayvin. There were other stories that gave me the most horrible nightmares, such as tales of metal men, horrible mutants, of the Fendahl and the Grandfather Paradox. The Hermit also taught me many things. He helped me during some of the lowest points of my life. He was a rare thing on Gallifrey, he was a good man. It's a shame he had to leave" explained the Doctor.
Artemis was about to inquire the fate of the Doctor's mentor but was interrupted by their arrival at the front door. The oak double doors of the house flew open of their own accord and behind the threshold stood a rather large furry creature.
"Good evening Doctor, I have been ordered to search for you" greeted Badger.
The Doctor gave an indulgent smile, walking up to Badger and giving him a friendly slap on the shoulder.
"Badger this is Artemis, she's our guest. Artemis, this is Badger; he is my first best friend." The Doctor introduced Artemis to his big hairy friend with a wide smile.
"Sir, Master Quences wishes to speak to you" stated Badger.
The Doctor sighed.
"Of course he does. Badger take Artemis up to my room, I'll go talk to Quences" instructed the Doctor.
The Doctor turned to Artemis.
"You better go with Badger. The sight of a guest in the House could give my Great Uncle a double heart attack. He's on his thirteenth regeneration, so Quences can't afford one of those. I shan’t be long."
Artemis nodded reluctantly. The Doctor waved and strolled into the house. Badger looked mournfully down at Artemis.
"If you would follow me ma'am" asked Badger politely.
Artemis followed Badger past the threshold and into the House.
After walking through a maze of wooden panel corridors Badger lead Artemis into a white marble windowless room. The floor was covered in a synthetic Earth style carpet with a low coffee table at the centre of the room which was surrounded by comfy armchairs and red couches. Books seemed to be everywhere. Stacked on the coffee table, piled on one of the royal red couches and packed unevenly into book shelves.
At the end of the room was a marble fire place, above the mantle hung a portrait of a heroic statuesque individual. The label said 'Omega'. Artemis snorted; Omega was never that good looking.
"Would you like refreshment? We have wine of every vintage in the galaxy. Or perhaps some of the Doctor's favoured drink. I believe it is called tea" queried Badger?
Artemis, who was examining a small globe of the planet Earth, turned back to Badger.
"No thank you Badger that will be all" dismissed Artemis.
"Very good ma'am."
Badger slipped out of the room, leaving Artemis alone. She sat down in one of the comfy armchairs. She glanced down at some of the books on the coffee table and marvelled at the variety. 'The Time Machine' by H.G Wells, the electronic guide book 'Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy', 'Sharpe: A History of Britain's Greatest Soldier' by Bernard Cornwell, 'Chuck: from Nerd Herd to Super Spy' by Charles Carmichael, 'Naked Heat' by Richard Castle and 'Man, Two Hearts One Mind' by Professor Bernice Summerfield were just the titles that littered the top level of the books that piled the coffee table.
For the first time Artemis wondered about her new friend the Doctor. She had risked everything in coming back to Gallifrey and she needed to be carefully. Artemis did not know if she could trust the Doctor. If she only knew the Doctor’s real name, then she might have clue.