Chapter 14

The commander rose from the conference table and gave the Doctor a flinty stare. The captain waved him down, but Commander Pruda stood fast. It wasn't until the captain spoke, ordering him to sit, that Pruda obeyed. However, he could not refrain from threatening his prisoner some more.

"The trial by cerebral pugilism will take place on the main command deck immediately when we depart this room. Our crew is readying the equipment now. I'm quite sure it shall be a very short bout, Doctor. The Aegis has never been beaten. Not in all our memory. I will enjoy watching you slowly turn into a gibbering idiot before you die. Not," he chuckled gratingly, "that there will be much difference from your present state."

"Sorry," the Doctor said, politely stifling a yawn, "are you threatening me again? Because as threats and intimidation go, I'd rate you about a minus two. Which I suppose would put you on par with a double glazing salesman. As a matter of fact, I tend to find all this butch military posturing a massive yawn, actually." He gave another yawn—this one a jaw-cracker, as if to demonstrate. "In fact commander, if I'd have known you were going to be this dull I'd of let you shoot me straight away, to save me the torture of having to listen to you."

"What? What!" Pruda's jaw dropped. He slammed the table with his fist, his anger boiling over at the Doctor's display of utter disrespect for his authority. "What!"

"Oy!" The Doctor whinged indignantly. "That's my line! I hate a plagiarist. That's the problem with schools these days. You're only taught to take tests and watch educational holovids. You've become too lazy to think for yourselves. No imagination. All the curiosity washed out of you. It's just sad."

"You play the clown to hide your fear, Doctor." The Aegis suddenly spoke.

"Nah." The Doctor answered, giving the Aegis a cheeky wink. He leaned back in his chair with his hands behind his head, crossing his legs comfortably. "I just enjoy a good laugh, me. Humour is a standard part of my personal survival kit. Well that," he amended, "and my Galifreyan army knife, and a really big box of nano-gene sticking plasters."

"Beware the power of the Aegis, Doctor!" Pruda snarled.

"There you go, boring me again. You're an insomniacs dream, commander."

"Do not mock!" The captain warned. "You would do well to be more respectful, Doctor. The Aegis are the most powerful beings in the known—"

"As opposed to what?" The Doctor interrupted brusquely.

Abruptly dropping his feet to the floor with a resounding thump, he leaned forward, his features deadly serious.

"Cos' I've dealt with so-called 'all powerful' beings before, captain. The Trickster, Zeus and Demeter, the Great Vampire, the Celestial Empress of Tanjko, Satan, Suhtek, the Megara, the Great and Powerful Oz. I've met more gods than a chip shop has chips. And what of the Paladin hordes from the First Time War? They were believed to be the most powerful and almighty beings of any universe. Yet where are they now, hmm—? Not a speck of dust remains of them. Not even a mention in The Observers Guide to Gods and Demons. Time takes everything in the end. Even the omnipotent and immortal."

"Oh tosh, Doctor." The captain sniffed. "How could the gods possibly die? Now I think you truly are playing the part of the fool."

"Then you've missed the patently obvious fact that I'm not smiling. It isn't the amount of power that makes a being god-like, captain." The Doctor answered somberly. "It's how that being chooses to use or abuse its powers, that matters. Yes, I'm a Time Lord. And I am telling you that nothing will exist past the end of time." He shot a distasteful glance at his opponent in the pending trial. "Not even His Aegisness sitting over there."

The captain's com buzzed. He listened to the information he was given, then nodded to the commander.

"Or you as well then, Doctor." The captain smiled. "In fact, I sincerely doubt you will live past this very day."

"Guards! Bind the prisoner and take him to the command deck. His trial will proceed forthwith." Pruda ordered smugly.

"Oh, I'm so glad you didn't say 'fifthwith'." The Doctor quipped, as two guards hauled him bodily to his feet, binding his hands behind his back. "Because I do rather detest long waits."

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