The metal cell door, with an impenetrable glass window, slid
shut behind them. A hiss of air indicated the deadlock had been set. A clatter
of metal cuffs followed two dark looming figures walking away from the door.
Two others remained just on the other side. Inside the four meters by four
meters cell, the Doctor was getting up off his knees rubbing his wrists.
Isabelle jumped up charged towards the Doctor giving him a shove and he fell to
the floor again.
"What's that for?" he uttered as he glared up at her from the floor.
"Of all the times we could have come here and you pick now!" she screamed at him.
"I've told you before, the TARDIS has a mind of her own, at times. I programmed her to come here a week later. Believe me, I don't want this anymore than you," he said bitterly getting up off the floor again. Isabelle shoved his shoulders. He took a few steps back. He grabbed her by the shoulders holding her out at arms length.
"Ugh!" Isabelle grumbled as she pushed against him. He stood his ground. They stared angrily at each other. Finally, breaking free of the Doctor's grasp she growled, "That blinking TARDIS! I'll have her hinges for this." She paced the floor like a kept tiger.
"You have nothing to worry about," the Doctor offered. She glanced at the door as she walked back and forth. Then she looked back at the Doctor.
"It's not your blood they want, is it?" Isabelle seethed quietly.
"They don't know I'm not human," he remarked a little too loudly.
"Say it a little louder and they will," she shouted arrogantly. "You're just going to sacrifice yourself, like you always do?"
"Not always. There have been a number of times when you volunteered or have you forgotten?" he argued.
"I know what I did," she flared agitatedly.
"Isabelle, look at me," he said softly. She didn't look at him. The shuffle of her feet pacing back and forth echoed in the confined space. Keeping her head down, she didn't see him glaring at her. "Isabelle!" he barked.
She turned her head abruptly towards him. "What?" she snapped as she stopped her movement. He stood there with concern etched in his brow.
"I'll get us out of this," he said sincerely. She smiled smugly.
"You think I've lost it. You think I'm just going to collapse in a fit of tears of despair. You think I need saving all the time. You think I can't handle this. You think I'm pacing out of frustration. Well, that last bit is right, but the rest of it is wrong! I'm thinking! You're not the only one who can come up with ideas to get us out of this mess," Isabelle spat. He stared at her.
"You're right. I'm sorry!" he replied haughtily. "You are more than capable of saving our arses."
"I am!" she shouted back the she huffed through her nostrils. Her adrenaline was just beginning to subside. She moved over to the metal wall and allowed her back to hit against it then slid down to the floor.
The Doctor took out the sonic screwdriver scanning the deadlocked door, one of the only things his sonic could not unlock. "Dammit!"
"So, how does this bloody Blood Ceremony work, Doctor?" Isabelle asked brashly.
"They won't kill me, if that's what you're worried about. It's painful. They'll thrust my hand on a long gold spike. The blood runs down it over the symbols of the Blood God. Every year they pick a different species of alien. You should feel privileged that they picked us for the human race. Well, you at least," he said somewhat lightly. She stared at him with venom in her eyes. "Sorry," he apologized feeling the sting of her gaze.
"That's it?" she asked further.
"That's it," he said finitely. "Oh, I'll most likely lose my hand. The spike leaves a nasty wound and nothing can heal it," he added continuing to scan around the room.
"You still say all this as if you're going to do it. What if they find out you're not human?"
"They'll use you. But I won't let that happen," he assured her. She nodded slightly but still looked angry. Then she stood up to look out the cell door window staring at the two guards.
"Big blokes, aren't they?" Isabelle mentioned absentmindedly.
"Those are just the guards," the Doctor educated her as he fiddled with the sonic. "The ones performing the ceremony are different species."
"Different species. Different weaknesses. Gold spike. Blood. Weapons," Isabelle muttered quietly as she stepped away from the door. She returned to the door and looked out once more. Her fingertips traced her mouth as she thought. "Weapons," she repeated.
The Doctor watched her but also contemplated what she had said. Pocketing the screwdriver, he meandered towards the back of the cell. Leaning against the wall with arms crossed over his chest, his brow furrowed.
Isabelle had returned to pacing the floor again but more slowly. She began to randomly repeat words. "Different species . . . weaknesses . . . ." She then turned to the Doctor and focused on him for a moment and asked, "This other species, what are they like?"
"Tall, skinny, look like twigs," he told her.
"Hmm," she voiced and then went back to murmuring words. "Gold spike . . . gold . . . spike . . .weapons . . . weapon." Turning away from the Doctor, she smiled.
Not much later the guards were escorting the Doctor and Isabelle to the ceremony chamber. Inside, a low plinth stood in the centre of the room. A long golden narrow spike protruded from the centre of the plinth. In the background, large windows over looked the yellow fields and pink sky.
"Why is the spike so long?" she whispered her question to the Doctor.
"The Blood God has a lot of symbols of representation," he said.
"You get your hand poked at the top and blood has to run all the way down. Doesn't seem too bad," she uttered with a shrug. They had stopped moving. The Doctor shook his head.
"They'll push my hand all the way to the bottom of the spike. That's why I said I'll lose my hand," he added. The bottom of the spike was nearly as big as his hand. Thrusting it all the way down would rip it to shreds. She glared at him with consternation.
"Silence," a highly decorated narrow looking figure in navy robes said loudly in a feminine voice. It was much different from the stout armor clad guards. "The litany of this ritual has been spoken. Now, is the time for the offering. Blood God," the figure began. There was a moment of silence before the officiate continued.
"Why the long pause?" Isabelle whispered to the Doctor.
"The TARDIS translated the name of the god to the most shortened form possible for us to comprehend. The actual name of the god is extremely long," he explained in a hushed voice.
"Makes sense," she whispered in return.
"Bring the male forward," the ritual leader said.
The guards grabbed the Doctor by his upper arms and brought him over to the plinth with the spike. "The sacrifice awaits," the officiate finished speaking and signaled to the guards. Two guards brought the Doctor closer to the plinth. One took up his hand and placed it over the point of the spike. Isabelle swallowed hard and her eyes widened.
"Stop!" she yelled. "You can't do this!"
The Doctor and the officiate looked over at her.
"What is this interruption? This offering must take place, or our well being will jeopardized," the officiate told her.
"I understand that," Isabelle said. "It's human blood you need, yeah?"
"The Blood God," again there was a pause, "has requested the blood of an Earth born being to be appeased."
"Isabelle, don't do this," the Doctor demanded sternly.
"Shush," Isabelle said to him looking at the officiate.
"You don't know what you are doing. I do!" he said to her.
"I said shush," Isabelle repeated to him.
"The hour is at hand. The offering must be given, now," the officiate said turning back to the spike.
"I'm from Earth!" Isabelle burst forth.
"We discovered both of you on Earth. It doesn't matter which one of you is offered," the officiate said becoming irritated.
"Let them do this, Isabelle," the Doctor pleaded.
"He's not human!" Isabelle shouted.
"What is this?" the officiate said turning back towards Isabelle. The guards lowered the Doctor's hand.
"He's not an Earthly human. I am! If you don't believe me, check him. He has two hearts. I have only one."
"Isabelle, what are you doing?" the Doctor said fearfully.
The officiate waved a hand. Another thin being came forward from the crowd wearing the same colored robes but not as highly decorated. It looked more masculine. He placed a square device over the Doctor's chest. The rhythm of two hearts could be heard reverberating around the room as if resonating from a speaker. Then he came over to Isabelle and did the same thing. The familiar cadence of a human heartbeat sounded around her.
"Take him away! Bring her forward," the officiate spoke at once.
"I'll come willingly," Isabelle said steadily as her feet took her over to the plinth. Standing tall and proud, she extended her hand over the spike without hesitation. Two guards flanked Isabelle.
"Isabelle!" the Doctor yelled as he was taken away by the guards. She ignored him.
The officiate, and others gathered for the ceremony, ignored his cries. The guards pushed the Doctor out into the corridor. The doors closed behind them. The guards stood in front of the doors blocking him from getting back inside. They held their weapons out towards him. He looked worried as he took small steps back and forth looking as though he was about to rush them. A scream could be heard from inside.
"Isabelle," the Doctor whispered loudly.
The Doctor fell to his knees in defeat. They had won. He bent over in sobs with his forehead pressed to the floor.
There were sounds coming from inside the room, shuffling. The ceremony must have been over. The doors opened behind the guards. The sound of a blaster went off and the two guards fell on either side of the Doctor. He peered over at them in bewilderment. He peeked his head up over their backs looking down both directions of the corridor. There was nothing. Then, he looked up. Isabelle stood there with a grin on her face and a blaster on her right hip.
"Hello, Darling," she said.
"It worked then?" he asked.
"Like a charm," she replied. "Who would have known a screwdriver would save the day?"
"Me, when I created it," the Doctor answered picking himself off the floor.
"Yeah, but I was the one who figured out that sonicking the gold spike would cause a sound that could potentially be unheard by us but lethal to them," she put forth flipping the screwdriver in her left hand.
"I know. You don't have to rub it in," he said. "You still have the back up?"
Isabelle tossed him the screwdriver then pulled out a shank from her boot. "Yep," she replied happily. Then she put it back into her boot, just in case.
"I could kiss you right now!" he said excitedly.
"So why don't you?" she said slyly letting the blaster dangle by her side.
The Doctor only considered what Isabelle said for a second. Next, he was taking strides towards her. He stopped in front of her placing his hands on her waist drawing her closer. He pressed his lips hard against hers. She dropped the blaster by her side wrapping her unburdened arms around his neck just as their lips touched. The hum of the spaceships engines mingled with her soft sigh. The Doctor pulled her closer in to him wrapping his arms around her back until there was no space between their bodies. Her knees bent slightly as the Doctor held onto her. Slowly, he drew back still holding her in his arms as his eyes gradually opened. He gazed upon her with a sweet smile.
"Whoa!" she uttered breathlessly as she supported herself once more. They both huffed in amusement. She closed her eyes as a smile spread across her lips.
"Yeah," he agreed. He pressed his forehead against hers. "Isabelle," he whispered. "I don't want any companion other than you."
The sound of thundering boots on metal echoed down the corridor. They both turned their heads in the direction of the sound.
"Maybe we should discuss this later?" Isabelle suggested as she picked up the blaster making them part.
"Er, yeah," the Doctor said.
They smiled at each other and ran hand in hand in the opposite direction of the oncoming guards.
After they safely returned to the TARDIS, they floated somewhere between here and there, now and then. The Doctor let Isabelle retreat to her room to sleep. The hours ticked by but she just lay there staring at the ceiling or sitting up staring at the floor. She turned her head to look at the door. Finally, she wrapped her dressing gown around herself then pushed her feet into her boots and clomped out to the console room.
Isabelle glanced around, searching from the passageway. The aqua glow of the time rotor illuminated the room causing shadows of the coral supports to display on the walls. She entered the room and walked around the console constantly sweeping her eyes into the faint yellow lighted corners. It was empty. Returning to the passageway, she let out a deep sigh and retreated down the corridor towards her room.
Passing by the Doctor's bedroom door, she stopped and went back to it. She worried her lip before softly knocking. There was no response. Giving a slight shrug of her shoulders, she turned to go back to her own room. After two steps, she spun around with a bit of flare to stand in front of his door again. This time, she slowly tried the door handle. It turned easily. She pushed the door open as she entered. The soft glow of his table lamp illuminated only part of the vast room. Normally he would be sitting in his chair reading or reciting names of stars. The chair was empty. Her eyes swept around the room quickly trying to see into the dimly lit nooks. A sorrowful moan made her turn her head towards the left of the room to the alcove. She was surprised to see him laying in bed.
Quietly, Isabelle made her way over towards the Doctor. The closer she came the more she became aware he was in distress, perhaps having a nightmare. Beads of sweat dotted his forehead. The covers had been thrown off and she could see he wore only pajama bottoms. His chest was heaving heavily from the stressful breaths he took. Taking her hand, she gently pressed it to his chest. He shuttered and she immediately removed her hand, shocked by the unexpected reaction. The Doctor became still but his breathing was still considerable. Again, she placed her hand on his chest. There was no violent reaction that time. With just her touch, his breathing subsided. Tenderly she stroked his cheek, then back towards his hair petting him to ease his rest. In his sleep, he let out a hefty sigh and on the sigh he whispered one word, "Isabelle." She smiled graciously. Moving to the other side of the bed, she climbed into it after slipping off her boots. She curled herself up beside him and returned her hand to his chest. After laying there for only a few minutes watching the Doctor rest uneventfully, sleep finally came to her easily.