PORTRAIT OF A NIGHTMARE

Chapter 11

"There she is!" The Doctor smiled, "Safe and sound." He gave the TARDIS an affectionate pat and unlocked the door. As he bounded towards the console, he said to Rory, "I'll just focus the DNA decodifier on a superhyphonic frequency compatible with Amy's unique human cerebral wave patterns. I can then use it to home the TARDIS in on her location."

"That sounds like it could take awhile, Doctor." Rory said uncertainly.

Spinning around the Doctor waved his arms proudly, "Absolutely not! I admit, I haven't needed to do this in several regenerations, but it's like riding a fusion-drive star bike. You never forget how. And, because Amy's been in the TARDIS as long as she has, the process should be easier than falling off a log, learning to dance the box step, and guessing Dolly Parton's bra size." He saw Rory raise an eyebrow. "Ermólong story. Never mind. It was a stupid pub quiz, anyway."

"Oh. Right. I've done a few of those." Rory nodded his head sagely, as if he understood. He turned his worried face towards the console, where the Doctor was already setting about his work. "Is there anything I can do?"

"Actually, there is, Rory."

"Anything you want, Doctor." Rory replied, ready to spring into action, "I'm your man."

"A nice cup of tea would go down a treat right now, ta." The Doctor said, giving Rory an absent-minded wave of thanks, as he stood staring at readout being typed out by the old fashioned typewriter attached to the console.

Heaving a resigned sigh, Rory trudged off to the kitchen to make tea. If it helped get Amy back safe and sound, he'd walk all the way to China and pick the leaves himself. He knew the Doctor probably just wanted him out of the way, so he could get on with his work without any distractions. However, if that was the Doctor's plan, he was soon to be in for disappointment.

About fifteen minutes later, Rory re-entered the console room with a mug of tea in hand. The Doctor beamed a satisfied smile at him.

"Amy's not dead, Rory. I've got a definite fix on her location." Before Rory could ask, he added, "I know she's alive, or I wouldn't be able to do that. The cerebral wave index would automatically flat line. Now, let's go and drop in on Mrs. Pond and see how she's getting on."

With a happy flourish, the Doctor threw a switch on the console. Without warning, two things happened at once. First, the console blew up in a shower of sparks sending the Doctor reeling backwards. It caused a startled Rory to spill the mug of tea all over the front of his shirt.

"Ow! Damn it! Gotta' hand it to you, Doctor. Once again, your timing is impeccable!" He muttered crossly, dropping the mug, as the boiling hot liquid penetrated his skin through the wet shirt.

Then, the Black Guardian's laugh filled the console room. Almost as if it was being broadcast over a Tannoy.

"Behind you!" Rory shouted. He'd looked up from hopping around in pain, to see the black robed old man suddenly appear directly behind the Doctor.

"No-no-no-no-no!" The Doctor shouted, staring at the console in dismay. "Not that!"

His hands balling into fists, the Doctor grimly turned to face the Black Guardian. The ugly old man simply stood there with folded arms and a self-satisfied smirk on his face.

"One by one, Doctor. Until there are none." He said menacingly.

"Oh great! Now I am in trouble, if you're going to start quoting bad horror film lines at me." The Doctor retorted sarcastically.

"He's next on the list. And you're going to watch him die." The Black Guardian said. He slowly raised his hand to point at Rory. He gave a ghastly smile, relishing the moment.

"No, don't!" The horror-stricken Doctor shouted, moving to protect Rory from the coming blast.

Just as the Black Guardian was about to deal out death, he suddenly screamed in pain. Clutching his hands to his head, he sank to the floor. Both Rory and the Doctor were taken aback by what they saw next.

Another old man had turned up in the TARDIS. He was dressed identically to the Black Guardian, except that this man was all in white.

"Wait. Don't tell me." Rory said to the Doctor, pointing at the newcomer. "That would be the White Guardian."

"Rory!" The Doctor admonished him with a wave of his arm. "You're the companion. You're supposed to ask me the questions. Not answer the question yourself, before you've even asked the question. You're also supposed to scream and run away. Why aren't you screaming and running away? They used to do an awful lot of screaming, my companions." The Doctor rattled off with a frown. He paused and scratched his head. "OK. Not entirely sure I really miss that bit. Used to go through an awful lot of headache power, back then."

"Doctor, if I may interrupt?" The White Guardian politely said. Rory thought this man looked very wise and kind. And his very bearing appeared to be more dignified than that of his counterpart, as well. "You must leave this time capsule at once. For I fear that I cannot keep the Black Guardian at bay for long."

And indeed, the Doctor noted with new-found concern, that the kindly old man seemed to be under a tremendous strain. In fact, as the Doctor watched, the White Guardian gave a small cry and seemed to wobble a bit. Both Rory and the Doctor rushed to aid him, but the old man held out a hand for them to stop.

"No! You must go, both of you. Now." He gasped. "Before it's too late. The Black Guardian grows ever stronger, the more he retains this corporeal existence. Run, Doctor!"

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