Chapter Three

"Um, is this safe?" Rose said while she, Jack and the Doctor were walking in the center of the raptors.

As soon as the Doctor hid his TARDIS and they left the safety of it, the raptors surrounded them in a tight circle. Rose kept glancing at them, thinking that at any moment one of them would go berserk and rip them to shreds. But so far the raptors were guarding them and Rose hoped it stayed that way.

"So how many people are participating in this tournament?" Jack said.

The Doctor chittered to the raptor in front of him and the raptor chittered back.

"He says he has no idea how many people are participating," the Doctor said over his shoulder to Jack. "He says he doesn't care about humans."

"Brilliant," Rose said dryly. "So at any moment they could turn on us and eat us."

"You're the one that wanted me to come here and face them," the Doctor said to her.

"It was a joke, ya git," Rose said.

They froze when they heard a roar in front of them and the ground began to shake. Their mouths fell open when a T-Rex came through the trees, heading right for them.

"And there's your T-Rex, Rose," the Doctor said, pointing to it.

"Don't move, its vision is based on movement, I remember that from JurassicPark," Jack said to Rose.

"Yeah? Well, I remember the lawyer being eaten and tore and half, that's what I remember," Rose said, stepping back behind Jack.

The T-Rex stopped and stared at the little group. The lead raptor chittered at him and the T-Rex bellowed back.

"Okay, Fossil Man, what are they saying now?" Jack said to the Doctor.

"They're arguing. The raptor is telling the T-Rex to clear off or he and his mates will kill him."

"Do you believe that he's actually able to understand dinosaur?" Jack said to Rose.

"I haven't a clue what he understands," Rose said, shaking her head.

The T-Rex roared at the raptor and he and two of his friends ran forward and jumped on his back. The T-Rex roared when they began to claw and bite him and they jumped off when the dinosaur got the message turned to the left and hurried away. The raptors then reformed their circle and the lead raptor chittered at the Doctor and he told Rose and Jack to walk forward.


When they finally reached gentle drop off, they saw a large valley stretched out before them. There was a river running through it and a large waterfall opposite the ridge they were standing on. Looking down they could see several tents and a large wooden stage that was about twenty by thirty feet. Standing on the stage and loitering around it were thirty other people of different, races, genders, ages, height and species. And at the back of the stage was a large golden throne that gleamed in the sunlight. The raptors chittered to their captives and all of them went down the slope towards the valley floor.

A half hour later they reached the first tent, its fabric decorated with black and white stripes. There was a man standing by it, a huge, bulky man who could put Arnold Schwarzenegger to shame. He was shirtless and his muscles were slightly sweaty. He had on khaki trousers and black combat boots. He was wearing a belt with a leather holster on the side that had the handle of a machete sticking out of it. He had a rugged face with several tribal tattoos on it. He had slicked back black hair that was pulled back in a ponytail that came down to the small of his back. He had several scars on his face and body and looked like he had survived several rough fights. He sneered at the Doctor and Jack and leered at Rose. Rose snorted and turned her head away which prompted a chuckle from the man.

"I notice the welcome wagon came to fetch ya," he said in an Australian accent.

The Doctor, Jack and Rose ignored him and walked with the raptors towards the stage. The man grinned and followed them when the last raptor went past him. The raptors forced the Doctor and his friends up onto the stage until they were standing a few feet away from the gold throne. The raptors stood around them, keeping them inside the circle and this became a point of interest to the other combatants who came up onto the stage to examine them. They chuckled and pointed at the Doctor and called him a shrimp and a wimp but the Doctor ignored them, figuring that the owner of the throne was about to make an appearance.

His prediction was correct when a loud booming trumpet sound echoed out of speakers built into the side of the stage and everyone fell silent when more raptor slaves emerged from the tents and herded the last of the stragglers onto the stage. The raptors around the Doctor, Rose and Jack stayed put while the others formed a perimeter around the stage, keeping everyone on it. Then a figure emerged from a black and white tent directly behind the throne. The Doctor frowned. The figure was dressed in a black robe, boots and gloves that covered everything. He was wearing a cowl over his head and over his face was a skull mask that stuck out among the black clothes. Everyone watched while the figure walked to the front of the stage. He held up his hand without making a sound and the raptors in front of the stage parted for him. He passed them and they went back to their positions while the man walked through the crowd to his throne. On the way there, he stopped and looked directly at Rose. Jack put his hand on her shoulder while the skull man stared at her silently.

"Hello?" Rose said tentatively to him when he didn't say anything.

He walked on and sat down on his throne. Two of the raptors that had been standing behind the throne hopped up on the stage and flanked him.

"What's wrong, ducky, are you a burn victim?" an English fighter taunted the man.

The man didn't speak for a moment and then addressed everyone in a deep booming voice.

"I have gathered you here for a tournament unlike any other," he said to them. "I have decided to see who is the greatest fighter in the universe so all of you have been brought here to fight to the death. The last man or woman standing will be crowned the greatest fighter of all time."

"Who are you then?" a blue skinned alien woman said to him.

"Who I am is of no consequence," the man said to her. "Address me only as Gamemaster."

There were several snickers among the crowd and the Doctor heard someone whispering that they should call him Gitmaster instead. Then the Gamemaster focused his attention back on Rose and held up his hand for silence from the combatants.

"You there! Who are you?" he said to her.

"Rose. Rose Tyler," Rose said.

"You were not invited," the Gamemaster said.

"Sorry. I was traveling with him when you took him," Rose said, gesturing to the Doctor.

"That was…a mistake," the Gamemaster said. "You do not have to play the game and you can stay here with me and watch. I'm sure the Doctor would like that."

"Who are you? How do you even know me? How did you know where to find me?" the Doctor said.

"I know you very well, Doctor, and I know you care for this woman. Do you want her to stay out of the games?"

"That's up to her," the Doctor said. "She can speak for herself."

"What about us?" the burly man said as he stood behind the raptors. "Do we get to decline your invitation?"

"No. All others must fight. Rose Tyler is exempt."

There were several loud protests from the fighters but they quickly shut up when the raptors surrounding the Doctor and his friends hissed and menaced them with their claws. The Gamemaster told them to stop and the raptors reformed their circle. Rose looked at the Doctor.

"What'd ya want me to do?" she asked.

"It's your decision. I can't speak for you," the Doctor said.

"As for me, I'd rather you sat it out than get hurt," Jack said.

Rose figured that was the Doctor's thought as well but she knew he was allowing her to be an adult and make her own decisions. But while she thought it over, she had an idea. She got in close to the Doctor and cupped her hands around her ear.

"If I give this whole tournament a miss I can try to figure out who this bloke is and what his plans are," she whispered to her.

The Doctor stepped back and Rose let her hands dropped to her sides. He scratched the right side of his nose, a prearranged signal that they had come up with when they were in the midst of a crowd. His nose scratching meant he agreed with her plan. He then rubbed the right side of his neck which meant "Be careful." He then stepped away and let his hand drop to his side.

"I decided to accept your offer to observe the games," Rose said.

The Doctor looked around when there were more angry protests from the other fighters. The Gamemaster silenced them and told the raptors to let Rose come forward. Rose glanced at the Doctor and Jack and the Doctor rubbed his right neck once more. Rose nodded and gave his hand a quick squeeze before she stepped forward. The raptors parted to let her through and the raptor and the Gamemaster's right side stepped away so she could stand next to him. Rose turned and faced her friends as the raptors reformed around them.

"Now," the Gamemaster said. "The rest of you will have an hour to rest. The tents have food and drink in them and benches so you can rest. The only exception is the tent behind us which is mine. No one may enter that one. In one hour, you will assemble here and you will be given your first challenge."

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