Chapter Fourteen

"Great, always something," the Doctor as he and everyone else left the woman and quickly moved outside the confined cell.

The spiders were so big; they were literally crawling over one another to get at them.

"Hey! If you don't want a bullet between the eyes, you'll stop right now!" Jack shouted at the spiders.

His eyes widened when the spiders froze.

"Well, whadda know, that worked," Jack said to River.

"Who are you and what do you want?" the Doctor said to the spiders, stepping up beside River.

The spiders said nothing and Jack glanced at the Doctor.

"Not the talkative types?" he said to the Doctor.

"That, or they're waiting for orders," the Doctor said. "I was thinking they were spiders from Metabelis Three but they're too large. Only the queen was this large…unless they mutated. Who is your leader?" he said to the spiders.

"I am."

The spiders moved up slightly as a human came down the stairs. When she came into the torchlight, John sucked in his breath and the Doctor groaned when they saw it was Peri. Her eyes were as black as the woman in the cocoon and she had a deranged smile on her face. Other than the eyes, she still looked human. She was wearing a dark blue strapless satin evening gown that shimmered in the firelight and black stilettos.

"Where is the Doctor?" she said as she studied everyone.

The companions parted while the Doctor stepped forward.

"Hello, Peri," he said.

Peri waved her hand and the spiders crawled up the walls and cages so she could walk through them. The Doctor wondered if there was a psychic link between Peri and the spiders since the spiders weren't even looking her way when she waved. Peri walked towards him and the Doctor tensed, both in anticipation of what Peri might do and because he noticed River was putting her finger on the trigger of her blaster. Then suddenly Peri lunged forward and smacked the Doctor across the face. The Doctor reeled back while Jack and River aimed their weapons at Peri. But Peri stood still and glared at the Doctor while he rubbed his cheek in a shocked silence.

"You pompous asshole!" Peri growled at the Doctor.

"Me?" the Doctor said, signaling to Jack and River to lower their weapons.

"Yes, you! How dare you show your face here!" Peri snarled at him.

"Peri, just calm down, okay?" the Doctor said, slowly coming towards her. "Let's just talk this out and not involve the spiders."

"Talk? Yeah, that's your specialty, isn't it?" Peri said. "Okay, I'll talk. You left me, you son of a bitch!"

Jack and River glanced at the Doctor while he shifted uneasily.

"Peri, I didn't leave you on purpose. I thought you wanted to stay here," the Doctor said. "They told me that you wanted to stay here and marry King Yrcanos."

Peri gave him a withering look.

"Who told you that," she said.

"The Time Lords," the Doctor said sheepishly. "I thought you were dead, at first. I was shown evidence from the Matrix that Kiv had implanted his mind into you but that was a lie. Then they told me that you didn't want to come back, that you came here and married the king. I thought you wanted this so I didn't come for you. I'm sorry, Peri. But that doesn't explain the spiders and why you now control them. And who are these people?" he added, pointing into the cell.

"I was kidnapped by the Valeyard," Peri said, ignoring his questions.

"I know and he faked footage of your death at my trial," the Doctor said.

"Do you want to know why he took me?" Peri said.

"Why?" the Doctor said.

"Because Yrcanos wanted me for his concubine," she snarled at him. "Because the Valeyard showed me to him and he liked me because he had a thing for alien women apparently. I was taken to him and enslaved to him. I waited for you to come and you never did. And now I find out why. Because you believed your own people? You told me several times you couldn't stand the High Council because, in your words, they were a bunch of corrupt idiots. And you believed them when they told you I decided to stay here?"

"I said I was sorry, Peri," the Doctor said while his companions looked at each other. "I can't change the past now. But I want to help you now that I'm here. So please tell me what the spiders are doing here and why your eyes are all black."

"The spiders are my allies," Peri said. "I used them to bring down Yrcanos and kill him and his arrogant, abusive courtiers. The Queen gave me the ability to control them. These spiders here are some of the palace courtiers and the ones in the cell are a few more. I got my revenge over them for all the times they heaped verbal abuse on me and stood back and watched and laughed while Yrcanos raped and beat me."

"So you're in control of your own mind then?" the Doctor said hesitantly. "This Queen isn't controlling you?"

"I'm in control, Doctor. I know that probably upsets you since you like to be the one in control but these spiders obey me, which is why you and your friends aren't stuffed into cocoons yet. So…exactly how long has it been since you're not the same man anymore? I realize that it's been eight years since I last saw you but that could have been centuries for you. And it has been, hasn't it? Centuries?"

"Yes," the Doctor said.

"And, out of the blue…you just decided to pay me a visit now?" Peri said.

"Can I speak to you alone, Peri?"

"Why?" Peri said.

"Because I'd rather not have this out with you in the middle of a dank dungeon with spiders all around me. I'd like to speak to you privately and I'd like my friends to be unharmed. Can we just talk this out without violence?"

"I don't know, I don't really trust you any longer."

"Please, Peri."

Peri sighed. She thought to the spiders and all of them scurried away.

"Your friends can move freely about the castle but this better not be a trick because I can think to them and I'll order the spiders to kill them in a heartbeat."

"Fair enough," the Doctor said.

"Follow me," Peri said.


She led him back to the throne room. While they walked, the Doctor's hearts ached, thinking of how he'd been deceived and left his friend behind to be abused and tortured. He didn't speak until they were inside the throne room and the doors were closed. He glanced around; wondering if she was the one planning the trap and any moment Spiders would swarm out from hidden places and ambush him. But nothing happened except for Peri walking over to one of the thrones. She sat down and crossed her arms, waiting for him to speak. The Doctor swallowed hard as he approached the throne.

"I'm sorry, Peri. I don't know how many times I can say it before you believe me. But I never meant for this to happen," he said to her.

"I thought you hated me," Peri said.

"I've never hated you, Peri."

Peri let out a barking laugh.

"Really? Because you sure as hell acted like it in your sixth life," she said. "You were always insulting me and acting like I was stupid and let's not even mention the murder attempt when you tried to strangle me. If you didn't hate me, you had a really strange way of showing it."

"My sixth life was a bit unhinged," the Doctor said.

"Unhinged? Unhinged doesn't even begin…"

She shut up and shook her head.

"No, just go ahead and talk," she said to him.

"Thank you," the Doctor said. "I had problems during that life, because the spectrox affected my mind during the regeneration."

"So it's my fault," Peri said.

"No, it's not your fault," the Doctor said evenly. "I gave you the bat's milk because I wanted your life to be saved. You had no control over what happened to me and sadly, there were times when I barely had control over myself during that life. I always cared for you, Peri. But each life is different. Not just the spectrox, I have different personalities when I change and sometimes the change is not completely for the better. I'm sorry I tried to kill you and I'm sorry I caused you distress. I'm not trying to downplay what I did, just explain it so perhaps you understand that I wasn't the Doctor you knew before. Believe me, I didn't like me at times and he still remains one of my least favorite lives. But…despite all that, I would never have left you here to suffer. I apologize profusely, Peri, and I want us to be friends again."

Peri fell silent while she thought it over and the Doctor was hopeful that at least she was calming down and talking to him.

"Do you know that the Valeyard is your future self?" she finally said.

"I do," the Doctor said.

"He told me that when Kiv kidnapped me. He was there in the ship with him. Is that the truth, what he told me?"

"I think so. He told me the same," the Doctor said.

"If he's from the future, maybe he targeted me because of our volatile relationship," Peri said. "Perhaps he thought I would believe that you really did hate me and left me behind because we didn't see eye to eye. And I did believe that."

"May I sit with you?" the Doctor said.

Peri hesitated for a moment and then nodded. The Doctor thanked her and sat down in the other throne. He hesitated a moment before taking her hand in his and putting his other hand on top of it.

"I think…looking back on it now…the reason I believed so easily that you were happy here was because I knew how badly I treated you and I wanted you to have better," he said gently while Peri listened. "You were stellar, Peri. And I made you feel like dirt and I do apologize for that. But maybe I thought…you belonged here and not with me. Then time moved on and so did I."

"Then why are you here now?" Peri said, studying his face.

"Because the TARDIS brought me here. I'm searching for allies to fight an alien force called The Brotherhood who might be threatening Earth. I asked the TARDIS to find people who I could use for a makeshift army to fight them and this is one of the places she brought me to. Maybe the TARDIS felt it was time to make amends and set the record straight after all these years. I would like your help, Peri. But I have to ask if you really and truly are in control because your eyes and your control of these spiders terrifies me. Where is this Queen?"

"She's dead. This happened two years ago, my conversion, and in that time she grew old and died. And I am telling the truth," she added when the Doctor studied her face.

The Doctor nodded; convinced she was telling the truth.

"These people you're trying to convert, you have to let me heal them. You can't do this to anyone else, Peri. I understand you want revenge but you've become just as evil as the people who did this to you. Turning these courtiers into your spider army solves nothing. Will you let me help them?"

Peri thought that over for a moment before nodding. The Doctor rubbed her hand and thanked her.

"And you…do you want me to heal you as well?" he said to her. "I can try to reverse what happened and make you completely human again."

Peri thought about that.

"Yes, you can…but…"

"But?" the Doctor said.

"Not yet," Peri said. "If you want me to help you, I could use the conversion to help you in battle."

"How? I don't want heaps of giant spiders in my TARDIS."

"No, I can control any spider," Peri said. "All spiders across the universe are essentially the same. I can telepathically control them and use them."

The Doctor considered that.

"I can also speak with them telepathically and understand them," Peri added. "They could be used as spies also. That was why I wanted you to wait."

"I just want you to be safe," the Doctor said. "Your abilities would be helpful but I want to be sure you really can control them. Can you?"

Peri studied him for a moment.

"You're like him," she said to him.


"Your fifth life," Peri said. "You're not arrogant anymore. At least not like you were before. You're more like you were when I first met you."

"I'm glad to hear it," the Doctor said.

"Yes, I can control it because my human mind is stronger than a spider's mind. I can't be controlled by the spiders," she said.

"Okay," the Doctor said. "Then I will hold off on mending you…that is, if you want to come with me."

Peri was thoughtful for a moment before standing up. She bent over and the Doctor watched while she looked him over.

"You're not bad looking this time around," she said. "And your clothes are updated. At least you're not a cricketer or circus clown now."

"Circus clown?" the Doctor said.

"Please. You had the clothes and the poofy afro, all you needed was the clown makeup and big shoes," she said to him.

"Perhaps," the Doctor said, smiling.

"I have a request," she said.


"Don't bring me back here when we're done. Take me somewhere else."

"I'll take you anywhere you want to go," the Doctor said. "I won't leave you stranded again, I promise."

"Are all these people traveling with you at the same time?" Peri said, gesturing to the door.

"No, one travels with me full time and another one is my wife and she travels with me on occasion."

"Wife? You got married?"

The Doctor nodded. Peri slapped her knee.

"Damn, it wasn't me," she said.

She chuckled at the Doctor's shocked look.

"Nah, I've had enough of marriage for now, especially after my supposed marriage to Yrcanos," she said.

"And I want to apologize again for that."

"You know, you have become more like your fifth life. He would have apologized. The Asshole would have told me to grow up and move on and deal with it."

"Well, I've taken my own advice. I grew up, dealt with it and moved on."

"Then I will do the same."

"Thank you," the Doctor said.

"And now…where did I put that carrot juice?"

She laughed when the Doctor bolted from the throne and ran for the door. He stopped after several steps and turned with a huge grin on his face.

"I don't need your health regime any longer," he said, walking back to her.

"I see that. You look good."

"Thank you. And now, Queen Peri, shall we?" he said, holding out his hand to her.

Peri smiled and took his hand. He squeezed it as they walked towards the huge golden doors.

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