Amber and Jasper stared up at the screen. It showed the landscape outside the TARDIS. Amber breathed a heavy sigh. There was no sign of the T-Rex mother. Almost like it could hear her, the screen was suddenly filled with a huge reptilian eye staring back at them. Amber screamed, grabbed the Doctor’s arm and huddled behind him. Jasper jumped back, hiding behind both Amber and the Doctor.
“It’s alright, she can’t see us,” the Doctor said, patting Amber’s hand.
Amber stared at the screen. The giant eye pulled away and was replaced by a huge, scaly nose that breathed heavily, fogging up the screen. The fog gradually faded and the T-Rex took one last look before it turned around and left. Both Gargoyles sighed this time.
“Can we go somewhere else?” Amber asked, her voice still trembling slightly. “Somewhere not so scary?”
“Of course!” The Doctor said, and moved the monitor back into place. “Where would you like to go?”
“Are there planets with more than one moon?” Amber asked after a moment of thought.
The Doctor thought for a moment, and then his expression lit up. “I know just the place,” he said, and started flipping switches on the console. “The planet Argon V–”
Ebony burst into the control room, interrupting the Doctor. “Amber?!” she exclaimed, staring down at the trio. She was fine. They both looked fine. Her adrenaline boost spent, Ebony leaned against the door jamb, and did slide down to the floor this time.
“Ebony?!” Amber answered with her own exclamation. She bolted up to her clan sister, but consciousness was already ebbing from the eldest gargoyle.
Ebony opened her eyes again, something feeling not quite right. She was back in the hospital-looking room, laying on the same bed. She turned her head and saw Amber and Jasper also laying on beds like hers. She started to sit up again.
“They are only sleeping,” The Doctor said.
Ebony turned her head in the direction his voice came from. “But, they’re not stone!”
“No,” The Doctor replied, amused. “That part of your biology is suspended, but not their biological clock. They just feel asleep as if their plugs had been pulled.”
What magic was this? First they are made to stay in stone sleep for over a century, and now they can not got into it to heal? Ebony collapsed back down again. This man must be a fae to be able to use such powerful magic so casually.
“Why would you do this?” she asked.
“It’s not intentional,” The Doctor assured her. “It’s just the nature of my ship. If you were to leave it during the day cycle of whatever world it was on, you would revert to your stone form.”
A magical ship. Of course. What else would a fae have. Ebony felt a little better that it wasn’t deliberate.
“You should continue to sleep. You’ll heal faster, even without your stone form.”
“Don’t worry. Nothing can harm you here. You and the children are perfectly safe.”
Ebony still wasn’t sure if she could trust this strange man, but she didn’t see where she had any choice either. There was at least one thing he was right about. She needed to build up her strength. She might need it.
With the three gargoyles asleep, the Doctor could finally get to the maintenance he had intended to do before running into the children. He laid on his back, sonic screwdriver sonicing madly. He closed up a panel and got back up, slipping his sonic into his jacket pocket.
“There you are old girl,” he said affectionately. “Let’s see how that feels.” He started programming in some coordinates when he felt someone staring at him intensely. He looked up slowly and two large eyes peering at him from over the edge of the console. The Doctor froze, meeting those eyes.
“Doctor, I’m hungry.” Jasper said in a plaintive voice.
“Well of course you are,” the Doctor replied, standing up straight. “Where are you sisters?”
“Amber is helping Ebony.”
“And how is your sister feeling?”
“Much better now, thank you.” Jasper smiled brightly.
“Good. Now, let’s see. Food.” The Doctor paused in thought, something he always seemed to do when they needed to go somewhere in his ship. “Cafeteria! Come along Jasper.” He turned quickly on his heels and headed out of the console room, with Jasper right behind him.
“How big is your ship?” Jasper asked.
“As big as it needs to be.”
“Why does it look smaller on the outside?”
“That’s so it will fit in without taking up a lot of space.”
“Ohhh,” Jasper said as if it all made sense now.
The Doctor smiled. He loved the innocence of youth. The Doctor maneuvered through the corridors with ease, with Jasper galloping on all fours, keeping up just as easily. He finally came to a large room with tables, a large kitchen area, and an industrial refrigerator.
“Let’s see if we can’t find you something,” the Doctor said as he opened up the refrigerator. Jasper stood back watching as light flooded out and the Doctor stood staring inside. The Doctor suddenly jumped back, brandishing his sonic screwdriver as several tentacles came out of the refrigerator, reaching for him. The Doctor fought off the tentacles, slowly forcing them back before slamming the door closed. Jasper’s head cocked to one side as the Doctor leaned against the door panting. His hair was more of a mess than usual, and his bow tie was askew. He looked down at Jasper, running his hand through his hair. “How about if we go out?” He put the sonic screwdriver back into this pocket and then straightened his bow tie neatly.
Ebony entered the console room, her arm in a sling and Amber at her side. Ever since they woke up, Amber had filled her in about the Doctor and everything that had happened while she had recovered. While it wasn’t her first time in the console room, it was her first time to really look around. She stopped at the doorway, and slowly looked around, taking in everything. The Doctor stood at the console below them, talking with Jasper.
“Are we going to go to one of those fancy restaurants?” Jasper asked. “Is that why you wear that tie?”
“I wear this because bow ties are cool,” the Doctor replied, tugging at both sides of his tie smartly.
Jasper said “Ohhhh,” again before he noticed Ebony and Amber enter. “Ebony!” he exclaimed and bounded up the steps to them. “We’re gonna get to go out to eat!”
“Jasper, you know we can’t go anywhere we’ll be seen,” Ebony said, trying to let her young brother down gently. “We’d cause a panic.” She then looked down at the Doctor. “Please don’t go to any trouble on our account. We’ve already imposed on you so much.”
The Doctor just waved off Ebony’s protests. “No trouble at all,” he replied. “I’m feeling a little peckish myself.”
“If you are sure,” Ebony said still feeling uncomfortable with the imposition. She and Amber walked down to the console. Ebony was still wide-eyed as she looked at all the switches, buttons, levers, and screens that covered it. She leaned in occasionally to get a closer look at something, but she was careful not to touch anything. “Are we moving?” She looked up at the Doctor as he danced around the console.
“Yes, of course we are!” he replied, flipping some switches and then slowly turning two dials. The column in the middle of the console which had moved up and down started to slow, and a grinding, wheezing sound filled the room. Ebony looked around at the sound. Amber and Jasper were used to it by now. “And now we’re here!”
“Where is ‘here’?” Ebony asked.
“The market at Altera Six. They have some the best pastries this side of the galaxy!” He flipped a lever and there was a whirling sound. He waved them toward the door.
All three gargoyles hesitated. “Is it really okay for us to go outside?” Ebony asked.
“Of course it is!” the Doctor replied, dismissing her concern. “It’s early evening, well before the supper rush.” He walked from the control console down the walkway to the door. “Plenty of time to look around.” He opened the door and waited for them.
“But–” Ebony tried again to express her concern.
“No one will even blink an eye at you,” the Doctor assured her.
Ebony remained hesitant, but Jasper had no more such reservations. He bounded down the walkway and out the door.
“Jasper!” Amber shouted and started to run after him, but then stopped and look at Ebony. Ebony looked from the Doctor and then back to Amber. She nodded slowly, giving her consent. Amber took off again. “Jasper! Don’t run off!”
Ebony followed her two charges out the door and came to a sudden halt just outside the TARDIS. Amber and Jasper were just as frozen. Before the trio were countless rows of booths. All sorts of beings walked about. Some had two arms, some had more. Some had tentacles for arms. Some had only one eye while others had multiple eyes. There were some with horns, or scales, or masks on their alien faces. The booths were occupied with both buyers and sellers, and many more just wandering from booth to booth. Above them, the sky was a velvety black covered by a sea of stars that seemed to go on forever. All three stood in awe of sights before them.
“Well, off with you then,” the Doctor said from behind them, leaning against the TARDIS door jamb, his arms crossed and a smile on his face.
All three gargoyles turned to look at the Doctor before Jasper grasped Ebony’s uninjured hand. “Let’s go!” he said and started to pull her along.
“Just a moment,” Ebony replied, stopping the young boy. “Fold your wings in Jasper. You don’t want to hit anyone accidentally.” She fussed over Jasper and then Amber before finally letting Jasper lead the way into the market.
The Doctor closed the door to the TARDIS before following after the trio.
Jasper led his sisters through the market, stopping at practically every booth, looking at all the strange and wondrous items displayed. Amber, annoyed at first her clan brother’s start-and-stop pace soon became just as entranced. Ebony kept up, spending more time watching them than looking at the tables. She would glance over her shoulder every once in a while, catching glimpses of the Doctor further behind them, but never quite losing sight of them.
About half-way down the thoroughfare, Jasper stopped at one booth that had a variety rocks, gems, and stone. Jasper’s eye was caught some containers filled with different stones. He immediately began digging through them. Amber was drawn by the strange gems. Ebony followed Amber, but kept an eye on Jasper through her peripheral vision. She was looking at one green gem that looked like it held a flame when Jasper suddenly cried out.
“Ebony! Look at this!” He held up an oval rock that had an almost iridescent sheen to it.”Isn’t it pretty?”
“Yes it is,” Ebony agreed.
“Can I have it?”
“May I?” Ebony corrected him. “We don’t have any currency Jasper. We’re just looking, remember?”
Jasper’s face became crestfallen and he looked down at this pretty rock sadly.
“You don’t have to just use money,” the Doctor said appearing behind the trio suddenly. “You can barter as well. Do you have anything you can barter?” The three gargoyles looked between each other. Amber shrugged no, and Ebony just shook her head sadly. Jasper dug into his pockets and pulled out several small rocks.
“I have these,” he said, holding them up for the Doctor to see. There were a couple of river rocks, some white quartz with mica, and one pure white quartz.
“Hello, what have we here?” He snatched the pure white quartz from Jasper’s hand and held it up to examine it. It was oval in shape and slightly flatter on one side. Dirt clung to some of the ridges.
“Isn’t that one pretty?” Jasper said with pride. “I found it last night. I already got a bunch like that, but I liked it because of the shape.
‘It is indeed,” the Doctor agreed. As he examined the rock, the woman running the booth took notice of the rock too. Bright red eyes followed the rock’s every movement in the Doctor’s hands from under the dark hood that covered her head and shoulders.
“Issss that quartzzzz?” She asked.
“Why yes it is,” the Doctor said, flamboyantly passing the rock before her eyes, giving her a slightly more than passing glance. Her eyes continued to dart about, following the white rock. “You wouldn’t be interested in it, would you?”
“It appearsss to be a decccent specimen,” the booth woman said. “May I hold it?”
“Of course! You need a good look to evaluate the value of our goods.” He plopped the rock into her hand. “It has a good weight. Pure, unrefined quartz. Look at the way the light reflects off of it. I’ll bet it’s been a while since you’ve seen a piece of this quality.”
“It’ssss not bad.” She started to close her hand, but the Doctor snatched the rock from her before she could finish.
“Oh, well, if you’re not interested, I’m sure there’s someone else here we could find that would be willing to strike a deal. Come along children,” The Doctor waved to the gargoyles who had been watching him with stunned surprise. They automatically started to obey him.
“Wait! I didn’t ssssay I wassssn’t interessssted,” the booth woman said, holding her hand out.
The Doctor stopped and with his back turned to her, looked at the three gargoyles, a broad smile spreading across his face. He spun around again, the smile gone, replaced with a more serious haggling face.
“Then what do you propose my good woman?”
“What did the young boy want?”
“This!” Jasper said, rushing back to the precious rock he had placed back in the box when he thought they were leaving.
“Surely you can do better,” the Doctor said, this tone implying he knew exactly what the quartz was worth.
“The–the ladiessss! SSSSurely the ladiessss would like ssssomething! I have many gemssss and jewelry.” She waved her hand over the table Amber and Ebony had been looking at.
Amber looked up at Ebony, who nodded her approval. “I’d like one of these glowing emeralds,” she said, pointing to the one she liked.
“Yessss, flame gemssss. Very popular with the ladiessss.” She picked up the necklace and handed it to Amber. Amber took it and held it close to her chest. Then all eyes fell on Ebony. “A necklacccce for the lovely lady too?” She waved her hand over the table.
“I–I don’t know,” Ebony said, feeling put on the spot. She hadn’t been looking with the thoughts of buying. Jasper walked over to join her sisters at the gem table. He peered over the edge at all the different pieces.
“What about those?” he asked and pointed to some earrings. “I’ll bet those would look pretty on you.”
“Sssstar Sssstones, Yesss. They would sssstand out very well againsssst your complexion.” She held up the earrings for Ebony to see better. They are teardrop shaped black stones with specks of white, red and blue, all shining with their own light.
Ebony gasped. “They are beautiful! But I couldn’t accept something like that—”
“Of course you can!” The Doctor interrupted. “She’ll take them!” He took the earrings and dropped them into Ebony’s hand, and closed her hand around them before she could utter another protest. “Now,” he held the quartz out, dangling it over the booth woman’s hand. “As arbitrator of this transaction, how about…100 galaxy notes?”
“And that’ssss all?” the booth woman asked, her tone filled with suspicion.
The Doctor looked over at the three gargoyles, all who seemed quite content with their new acquisitions. “That’s all.” he replied with a tone of finality and dropped the quartz into her waiting hand.
“Done issss done.” She took the quartz and slipped it into a pocket inside her robe and handed the Doctor some paper bills.
“A pleasure doing business with you!” the Doctor replied with a wave of his hand.
“Thank you,” the three gargoyles said as well as the Doctor led them away.
“Doctor,” Ebony said as she fell in step next to him. “How was it that we were able to get so much from that booth? It’s just a quartz rock, hardly worth anything at all.”
“Not all worlds in the galaxy have them same elements as your home,” the Doctor replied. “On their world, quartz is as diamonds are on yours. She’ll make 10 times what over what she bartered for it.”
“Why was she speaking the Queen’s English?” Amber asked from slightly behind them.
“She wasn’t. That’s the TARDIS working for you. She’s translating everything; what you say, and what everyone is saying to you.”
“Wow. The TARDIS is really smart!” Jasper said.
“She is truly amazing.” the Doctor agreed with some affection in his voice. “Now, who’s hungry?”
“Me!” Three voices chimed together.
“This way then!” The Doctor started to speed up as they moved through the growing crowd.
The three gargoyles started to move faster as well, to keep up, but they got separated in as a large group passed through. Ebony stood up on her tip toes to try to catch a glimpse of the Doctor again, when a huge arm suddenly grabbed her and dragged her into a side alley. Amber and Jasper were pulled in as well, before they could cry out or protest. All three gargoyles were thrown to the ground. Hovering over them were two brutes, at least seven feet tall and all muscle.
“We hear youse got some nice rocks,” one of them said, staring menacingly down at the trio. Amber and Jasper scurried to Ebony’s side and she pulled her wings protectively around them.
To be continued.