The Taran Conspiracy – 54

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The Taran Conspiracy – 51


The Doctor contemplated the final blow with some equanimity. He wasn’t entirely sure what happened when a Time Lord such as he suffered a fatal combat wound. Once before his entire body had been regenerated when utterly worn out, but he wasn’t at all certain he would get the chance to recover from the Duke’s sword thrust.

At this dramatic moment of grim contemplation, a most unexpected intervention arrived in the form of a man dressed in similar attire to the Duke, who roughly tackled him, knocking the Duke into a suit of armour. As the man turned, the Doctor blinked, thinking for a moment he was seeing double or going mad. Then the Doctor broke into a relieved and understanding grin.

‘Brigadier!’ he said, ‘My dear fellow I have never been so pleased to see you!’

Stiff and formal the Brigadier may have been, he still favoured his friend with a small smile as he helped the Doctor to his feet. Not far behind him, Captain Purcay arrived at pace.

‘The long shanked knave!’ she gasped, ‘Why did you save him?’

‘How charming!’ the Doctor replied sardonically, ‘Is she also in the rescue party?’

‘After a fashion,’ agreed the Brigadier, ‘But I am afraid as rescue missions go this one is still somewhat lacking. We haven’t yet found Miss Shaw.’

To one side, some muffled cursing indicated that the Duke was recovering from his unexpected altercation. Purcay made to draw her sword, but the Doctor grabbed her wrist.

‘I wouldn’t do that madam!’

‘Why not!’ she snarled, ‘We outnumber him three to one, and besides I’m protected!’

By now the Duke was upright, and waving his sword menacingly. He favoured the Brigadier with a particularly calculating stare.

‘So,’ he murmured thoughtfully, ‘You’re the one Septurus saw in the forest. I wonder why this vulture let you live?’

With a complete lack of restraint or finesse, Purcay launched herself at the Duke shouting angrily. He parried her thrust effortlessly, and proceeded to beat and harry every subsequent attempt to attack him.

‘Help me you fools!’ she pleaded, ‘We can defeat him!’

The Doctor shook his head sadly.

‘That’s what I was trying to tell you! The man before you is possessed by such indomitable force of character that the three of us could never hope to overpower him.’ He gave the Duke a meaningful look, and added ‘Indomitable character, doubtless encouraged by an indomitable advocate, am I right?’

There was the merest flicker, but it told. The White Guardian had warned that the Black Guardian’s agents were at work on Tara. It seemed likely he had now discovered his principal agent. The question now was whether he and his companions could escape so that they could make use of the information.

‘It appears then,’ replied the Duke with a sneer, ‘That we are at an impasse until this unfortunate savage lowers her weapons. I suggest you do so. I am not known for leniency, but the longer you resist, the less merciful I shall be.