Chapter Nineteen

While they waited for Circady to return, the Doctor struck up a conversation with Attickus and Merlainy while Tania talked to Sapphire. The Doctor admired the silvery fishtail that the family had and the way they sparkled in the sunlight while they swished them lazily back and forth.

"So these elders, do you really think they'll listen to you?" Merlainy said to the Doctor.

"I hope so. I believe that all species have a right to live somewhere. You lot were the first to colonize this section of the planet but that doesn't mean that the humans can't live peacefully with you. Perhaps you could even help each other and share information.

"You are very idealistic, above dweller," Attickus said.

"I try to be. And there's many times when my idealistic ideas worked. These men could have captured you and put you in an aquarium but they're allowing us to go back to the elders and work something out. Which says to me that some humans are willing to listen and not annihilate all of you."

They heard Circady asking to be let back into the boat and the Doctor and Rory manned the cranks and lowered the net into the water while the women watched from the side. They waited a few minutes and then brought it back up with Circady resting inside it. Rose looked around before she, River and Amy pulled the net over the side into the boat. They helped Circady get free and he pointed to a small rectangular case that was hanging by a heavy chain around his neck. He took it off and opened the silver case and handed Attickus three pills before closing it and putting it back around his neck. Attickus gave one pill to his wife and his daughter. Sapphire stared at the pill in her hand while her parents swallowed theirs.

"Take it," Tania said. "It'll turn you into a human like me."

Sapphire gave her father a questioning look and he nodded and told her to take it. She did and soon the three of them were writhing around on the deck while Furnish looked on in horror.

"My God, are they being tortured by this?" Furnish said.

"Yeah, pretty much," Rose said while the Doctor and Rory knelt beside the three and did their best to comfort them and talk them through it.

Their cries of agony brought some of Furnish's crewmen over and they watched with equal horror as the fishtails split into human legs. The Doctor breathed a sigh of relief when it was all over and he tried his best to comfort Sapphire who was sobbing quietly. Rose, River and Amy helped Attickus and Merlainy to stand up and walked with them while the Doctor and Tania did the same with Sapphire.

"This is incredible," Furnish said to Rory while the others helped Attickus and his family get used to their new legs. "To think, these people were living just off shore."

"Yeah, I come from a place where you don't see things like this," Rory said. "Takes some getting used to, trust me. Now it's routine."

"Seeing mermaids become human is routine for you?" Furnish said.

"Well, things like it. This is the first time I've ever met merpeople," Rory said. "Trust me, I've seen things that even I had trouble believing in and I was there."

After the three temporary humans got used to walking, the Doctor went to see about some clothes for them. Once she was over her fear and pain, Sapphire was intrigued by walking upright and her silvery legs. She and Tania raced around the deck laughing and playing like children. Attickus observed their play and smiled at his wife.

"Perhaps the children at least could coexist," he said to her while gesturing to his daughter who was now racing around the deck with Tania at her side.

By the time they pulled up to the dock and the men were weighing anchor, the Doctor had returned with an extra sail that he and Furnish and a couple of his men had cut into with swords. The pieces of sail were wrapped around Attickus and Merlainy's bodies like towels and tied tight with some rope.

"Sorry, we'll have to find something in the village but this will do for the walk over," the Doctor said.

He wrapped a smaller piece around Sapphire and tied it with some rope. When the gangplank was lowered, the three merpeople gingerly stepped onto it and walked down. Sapphire took the lead, giggling at the feel of the wood on her feet. When she reached the dock, she stamped down on it with one foot and walked off it onto the sand. She stood there, running her foot back and forth under the sand, loving the feel of it between her toes. Tania caught up to her, took her sandals off and the two of them briefly ran around in the sand, laughing and giggling while the adults watched.

"I see Tania has made a friend," the Doctor said happily. "Perhaps the others can befriend the merpeople as well."

Tania and Sapphire stopped playing and followed the adults into the village. Several people were out attending to business and they stopped and looked at the strangers and stared at Attickus and his family, noting their odd choice of attire while they walked to the elder's house.

When they reached the house, the Doctor knocked on the door. He groaned when Mongo opened it and glared at him.

"Hi, can we come in and see…"

"NO! IT IS FORBIDDEN!" Mongo yelled.

He tried to close the door but the Doctor lunged against it with his shoulder and Mongo staggered back as the Doctor came inside the house.

"Hey! You are trespassing!" Mongo said, pointing a finger at him.

"Then go and tell Zan we wish to see him," the Doctor said, trying to keep his temper in check. "I have news for him and I have people he needs to meet. Now quit yelling in my face and do it!"

Mongo glowered at him and the Doctor returned the glare. Mongo finally walked away, grumbling under his breath about strangers not being allowed to see the Elder unless a meeting is arranged. The Doctor rolled his eyes at that and told everyone to come inside.

"NO! IT IS FORBIDDEN!" Amy yelled at him.

"Okay, everyone except Pond can come inside," the Doctor said while Amy snickered.

Amy pinched his cheek affectionately and came inside with everyone else.

"Think Zan will be glad to see us?" River said softly to him while he closed the door.

"Probably not but he'll see us nonetheless," the Doctor said.

All of the crewmembers had gone home except for Furnish, he stood near the back of the group and looked around. The Doctor thanked him for coming.

"No worries, I want to add my two credits to this," Furnish said. "Besides, these merpeople don't seem like a threat and the little one likes Tania so I don't see why we couldn't live in peace."

"My thoughts exactly," the Doctor said.

Rose stood off to the side waiting for Mongo to come back when Circady came up to her. She gave him a wary look and he held up his hand.

"Not trying to harass you, just wanted to apologize for my behavior," he said.

Rose relaxed and nodded.

"It's just that…you look so much like Aura that I was hoping I could have her through you. I'm not evil and I'm not a kidnapper. I just was grieving and didn't think things through. I'm sorry."

"It's okay. I lost him once and it nearly done me in," Rose said, pointing to the Doctor. "It took awhile for me to find him again but I was grieving just as much for his loss as you probably do for Aura so I can't blame you."

"I would like to be friends if that's okay," Circady said.

Rose smiled and nodded.

"I'd like that," she said.

Her smile widened when Circady beamed at that. He took her left hand and gently kissed the back of it.

"Thank you, Lady Rose," he said to her.

"I'm not a lady," Rose said.

"To me you are, you have the makings of a noble and so in my mind you are Lady Rose."

The Doctor, who had been listening in, chuckled when Rose blushed deeply at that. He turned his attention to Mongo when he came into the room.

"Zan will see you now," Mongo said curtly.

"Thank you, lead on then," the Doctor said to him.

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