Lady Kissarna Vidre wasn’t hungry anymore. She’d been trapped inside the tiny crawl space behind the tech room for quite some time, so she knew the sudden lack of clawing pain wasn’t really a positive development. Two tiny spots of light had been ambitious enough to travel all the way from the window across the room in order to filter in though the narrow slits on the entrance to Kissarna’s hiding place. Twice she’d watched them travel up one side of the narrow passageway, make their way across the top and back down the other side; only to fade away completely with the closing of the day. Twice she’d given in to necessity and scooted back in her hole and around one narrow corner to relieve herself; but as the single bottle of water she’d managed to smuggle away with her had been empty for hours, she didn’t anticipate having to do that again. It was a good thing too, considering it would require more strength than she had left.
Three days ago Kissarna had been bored. Bored and angry, angry and bored; she smiled bitterly as the insane mantra rattled around in head. She’d been forced to wear her elaborate ceremonial gowns and have her unruly red curls tortured into some semblance of a coiffure They’d instructed to act her whole thirteen years, to stand up straight, speak softly, play the part, and do her father proud. Kissarna couldn’t decide if she should laugh or weep at the irony of it all, which was just as well considering that the monsters just might hear either.
Oh, they hadn’t been frightening at first, no. They’d come just like everyone else across the galaxy; peoples of every shape and size and creed, all coming to celebrate her homeworld having achieved the impossible; one-thousand years of peace. Neo Portus, or New Haven when translated from the ancient Latin, was exactly what its name promised; a place for those who had nowhere else to go. They’d started out as a planet full of refugees; survivors of war, or famine, or extreme prejudice. They’d built a civilization out of nothing and thrived. Despite Kissarna’s general feelings of uselessness, she was proud of what her people had achieved; so she’d stood on the dais next to her father and watched his citizens cheer and celebrate. She’d sat up straight at supper, never letting her back come to rest against the chair as she spooned soup her mouth, careful not to spill a drop. She’d stood next to her father and shook the hands of Dictators, Emperors, Chancellors, Prime Ministers, Presidents, and Kings. She’d stared into the blood red eyes of a species she’d never seen before, greeted them regally, and then turned to the next one like a clockwork doll, never giving them a second though. And then New Haven had become Hell.
Kissarna would never forget the sound of her father’s scream as the weapon discharged into his chest. She’d stood there, stunned, forgetting every second of the training she’d been given since birth; forgetting to run, to hide, to save herself. A monstrous, scaly green hand, that had looked so benign seconds ago as she’d shook it in greeting, had grabbed her around the waist to draw her away from her father’s limp form.
“Papa!” she’d screamed, hysterical when the crisis called for level headed thinking, “Papa save me!” The monster had covered her mouth after that, muffling her cries and all but cutting off her breath. She’d kicked and squirmed, trying to loosen the vice-like grip but to no avail. Finally calling on her extensive survival training, Kissarna had wracked her brain trying to come up with some solution, some way to save the day when all she wanted to do was cry. She’d wished desperately to wake up now, to find out that this had been nothing but a horrible dream; to go running to Matron for a motherly hug, to spend the day in the garden with Marguerite, the head botanist, or the Tech room with Silas the electrician. Nothing would ever be the same. Nothing would ever be right again. How could one child save the world?
And then she’d remembered the boy.
Kissarna’s fuzzy mind seemed to have lost all ability to remain focused, so she let herself get lost in the memory of that beautiful day…
The strange little family arrived suddenly, during a time of year where tourism wasn’t really at its peak. Most people were saving their vacation time for three months hence when the peace celebration would be held. Claiming to be high ranking officials from off world, the trio managed to infiltrate the inner palace. Kissarna was immediately summoned to her father to help entertain them.
The three newcomers had been gathered within his private sitting room, eating donaberry cakes and laughing merrily. Kissarna took one look at them and immediately doubted their claim to the aristocracy; they were too happy, too much in love with life. The woman practically glowed with it; her pregnancy just beginning to fill her out in the middle. The man doted on her, his pinstripe clad arm resting protectively on his mate’s shoulder. Kissarna was at once hit with an intense longing for her mother; a silly notion, since she’d never met her.
“Now who might this be?” The man asked as she entered the room. He stood politely at her presence as if this was a formal dining room and she was a full grown duchess. So she curtseyed, daring to play along, and pretended to be wearing a ball gown instead of her greasy overalls. Taking it one step further Kissarna smiled at him with all the court grace that the Matron was desperately trying to instill in her.
“This,” Her Papa said suddenly, snapping her out of her fantasy, “little grease monkey is my lovely daughter Kissarna. Or at least I think she is under that disguise.” Kissarna’s jaw dropped in abject shock. Was her father playing? Was he actually teasing her? He didn’t seem to notice her confusion though, and quickly motioned her forward, “Don’t be shy. Come closer and meet the Doctor and his lovely family.”
Kissarna approached the strangely compelling man who’d managed the impossible act of bringing her father out of his doldrums, “I’ve been in the tech room all day,” she told him, enthusiasm plainly written across her smudged face. “We’re developing a trans-microelectronic wave amplifier.”
Her father piped up again in response, “My daughter delights in being contrary by preferring to spend her time working on machines or playing in the flower garden; anything that gets her hands dirty.”
The Doctor smiled widely, lighting up the room, and reached out a hand to gently touch her face. “Oh I think that’s brilliant,” he said, wiping a smudge of grease off her cheek with his thumb, “Imagination and dirt. That combination can save the universe.”
So enthralled with this magical man Kissarna almost missed the boy’s approach. Suddenly to the left of her was a small version of The Doctor, complete with messy chestnut hair and a smattering of freckles. “Ah, Tyler,” The man rubbed his hands together in apparent glee, “why don’t you and little Miss Vidre…”
“Uh,” her father interrupted, holding up a finger, “Lady Vidre.”
“Lady Vidre,” The Doctor acquiesced, looking suspiciously like he was stifling a laugh, “go off and get into the smallest amount of trouble you can manage, while your mum and I finish speaking with the Lord Chancellor here.” The blond elbowed her mate in the ribs just then, causing The Doctor to blush sheepishly. “Sorry,” he said, snapping out of his embarrassment long enough to make introductions, “Lady Kissarna,” he gestured towards her, “My wife Rose; Rose, The Lady Kissarna.”
Rose’s grin was just as infectious as The Doctor’s and Kissarna couldn’t help but reciprocate. “Nice to meet you,” she said, giving another slight curtsey.
The woman just waved, “hello.”
“Now off you go,” The Doctor said, motioning towards the door. “Slide down banisters, run through marble halls, make mud pies, and build a great bit fort.” He pointed at his son with one long finger, “No starting intergalactic wars, no stealing diplomatic secrets, do not try and hack into any electronic databases you don’t understand, and under no circumstances are you to speak to anyone with a zipper in their head. Got that?”
The grin on the boy’s freckled face rivaled his father’s in intensity. “Yes sir.”
“Now I’m not sure that’s such a great idea.” Her father’s stern tone was back and all levity was sucked out of the room in an instant.
“Naw,” The Doctor moved his hand in an arching motion, as if the concept was so absurd he had to push it away. “These two don’t need to sit here bored into mindlessness while we talk business.” His face grew dark then and a little bit frightening, “Do they?”
Her Papa stumbled over his next words and Kissarna was horrified to see him so out of control. “Of course not,” he stammered, “Go off then you two, like he said.”
“Now that’s the spirit!” The Doctor grabbed his son’s head in both hands and leaned down to kiss the skin of his brow. He mumbled something to the boy, obviously not wanting an audience, but Kissarna caught most of it with her exceptional hearing. “See if you can find out what’s been causing those strange readings,” he said seriously before suddenly snapping back into gaiety. “Also, be her friend, have fun, and don’t worry about your mum; I’ll take care of her. That’s my job, alright?” She missed Tyler’s response as she turned to look at the woman. On second glance she did look a bit pale under her glowing happiness. Kissarna hoped she wasn’t ill. As for the strange readings, what could he possibly mean? Was something wrong with the project?
Tyler made it to the door ahead of her and Kissarna walked towards him without protest like a trained pet. She had little to no experience with children her own age and her apprehension of the forthcoming afternoon was palpable. Kissarna stared at him blankly as the massive wooden door slid closed behind them with an eerie click.
And then he smiled and held out his hand for hers. Instantly, incredibly, against all reason, she trusted him; this strange little boy with the even stranger family. So she took a chance, and then she took his hand.
They spent the whole day together, giggling and getting into sheer mischief the likes of which Kissarna had never dared to get into before. She showed him her wave amplifier, and instead of telling her that ladies didn’t do those sorts of things he said that she was brilliant. She gave him a tour of the gardens and showed him the Solarian Roses. He proclaimed that, next to his mother, they were the prettiest flowers he’d ever seen; so she cut him a clipping to take home with him. She took him out onto her favorite balcony just as the second sun was setting and the third moon was rising and asked if it wasn’t the most beautiful site he’d ever seen. He agreed, but he wasn’t looking at the view.
Then, just before he left he told her about his amazing life in his father’s magical machine. He told her about how the three of them traveled around the universe, going on adventure after adventure, and continually saving the day. She longed to go with him, and said as much, but then felt incredibly foolish when his face fell.
“I’m sorry,” he said, and Kissarna truly believed he felt remorse.
“Don’t be,” She said, her voice as light as she could manage, “This has been the best day ever and I’ll never forget it. Besides,” she added proudly, “my father needs me.”
Tyler chuckled at that, “I know the feeling.”
Kissarna gave him a brilliant smile, “what would they do without us?” she asked cheekily, “Probably forget what they were doing and destroy the planet.”
“Don’t even joke about that,” he replied, chuckling lightly. Suddenly growing serious Tyler reached deep into his jacket pocket and pulled out a small blue device. “I want you to have this.”
Kissarna took the object he offered and held it in her hand; its slight weight surprised her. “What is it?”
“It’s my personal communicator.” He told her, “It can reach me no matter how far away I am, any time of the day or night.”
Kissarna looked up into his violet eyes, her own starting to sting a little. “Why?”
“If you ever need help, if you’re ever hurt, or scared, or in trouble, if you’re ever so sad you just can’t stand it anymore, call me. I’ll help you.” He flashed her another stunning grin, “It’s kind of what we do.” And then he hugged her, and Kissarna was so startled by the embrace that she could do nothing else but return it. A few minutes and another mutual smile later he was gone; his departure filling the room with the sound of the universe.
Kissarna had forgotten about that day; well, not really forgotten, it was more like she’d put it out of her mind. After all, she wasn’t ever going to see the boy again so there was no point in dwelling on his memory; even if it had been the loveliest day ever. But in those horrible few moments, when she was literally in the monster’s grasp and everything that mattered to her was at risk, Kissarna remembered. She’d bit and clawed, and thrown a tantrum the likes of which the Palace at Neo Portus had never seen before. And then she’d gone limp.
Her captor had been so startled he’d dropped her on the spot, allowing Kissarna to make a break for it through the mazework of corridors that made up her home. No one could find a palace child if they didn’t want to be found.
So now Kissarna found herself here; trapped in a prison of her own choosing, watching the tiny beams of light slowly fade around her for the third time. She clutched Tyler’s communicator desperately, feeling the broken bits of it dig into her palm, and prayed that just maybe her cry for help had made it out of the dark.
The Doctor wrenched himself back into his own consciousness with a mighty heave; his whole body throbbing with exertion as if he’d just run a marathon. He barely had time to register the accomplishment before his son collapsed against him; shaking violently and damp with sweat.
“We...hafff…” Tyler’s teeth chattered uncontrollably from exhaustion, slurring his words, “haff to… help her.”
The Doctor gathered him into his arms, just like he’d done years ago when Tyler had been a much smaller child. The guilt at having just put him through such an ordeal was almost unbearable. “I’m sorry,” he said, rocking his son back and forth,” I’m so sorry.”