While I’d never visited the Stormcage spacedock before, I was quite certain, judging by the intensity of the explosion, that whatever doors separated it from the interior of the prison had been completely obliterated. Jenny must have come prepared for any resistance she would encounter. Suddenly a song I had heard as a teenager popped into my head, one that my father Rory had introduced to me:
Now you gentlemen can wipe off that smile off your face
Cause every building in town is a flat one
This whole frickin’ place will be down to the ground
Once the din from the explosion had worn off, I heard the distinct sound of gun and laser fire. “Impossible!” Nardole spat. “Nothing could get through those doors.”
“Except for Pirate Jenny, apparently. Tell me, Captain,” I said as calmly as I could even though my stomach was tied up in knots, “if she could get through those doors that easily, just how much protection would you imagine these bars will provide?”
“But the Warden ordered me to keep you in your cell.”
“True, but does it matter if it is this cell or any other cell? As long as I’m in it, technically it is mine.” Nardole’s forehead crinkled, and I stifled a giggle. Another barrage of blasts sounded in the distance, and I was positive they were closer than the previous batch. “You know she’s on her way here right now. Do you intend to stop her with that little thing?” I asked pointing to the laser pistol still in its holster. “The guards she took out were undoubtedly armed with something much more significant, and yet here she comes.”
Nardole scowled at me and then pulled the pistol from the holster. He held it up at me. “If you make any attempt to escape, I will put a shot right through your skull, Miss Pond.”
I wrapped my hands around the bars. “You have my word, Captain Nardole, that I will not attempt to escape for as long as I am under your protection.” Another explosion erupted, far closer than I was comfortable with. Jenny was only a few minutes down the corridor. She must have been making easy work of the guards.
“Warden will probably have my head for this,” Nardole muttered as he tapped a few buttons on his data pad. A moment later, I heard the soft click of my cell door unlocking, and slowly it started to move aside.
“Thank you, Captain. I promise you won’t lose your head, at least not today.”
“This way,” Nardole directed, ignoring my quip and taking a quick glance around the corner. “First we get a bigger gun, then we get to safety.”
“A wise course of action.” I slipped out of my cell and followed him down the corridor in the opposite direction of the blasts and explosions.
“So, tell me about her.” Nardole scanned each cell as we passed. The assorted prisoners inside were either nudged against the bars looking down the hall or hiding comfortably in the shadows of their cells. They said little, as was their custom, but they were undoubtedly looking for ways to take advantage of the situation.
“What would you like to know?”
“Jenny have a last name?”
“No more than you do.”
“Strange name for an assassin.”
“She’s not an assassin. She’s a soldier from the planet Messaline.”
“Never heard of it.”
“No reason you should. It’s a small human colony that was briefly at war with the indigenous population. The humans used a progenitor in order to create new troops to fight their war, and she was a product of that system.”
“Humans,” Nardole scoffed, “always getting into wars where they shouldn’t.”
“Yes, we’re funny like that.” I decided to let his snub of my species pass. I needed his help after all, although it did make me question whether he was an EZG.
“So what does that have to do with the Doctor?”
“Can’t you guess? A progenitor machine requires DNA in order to produce a new offspring. When the Doctor visited Messaline …”
“They used the machine to extract his DNA and created her.”
“Precisely. Since the Doctor is not human, she was considered to be a genetic anomaly. So they named her …
“Jenny? That’s a stupid way to name someone.”
“Oh? And how did your parents stumble upon the gem Nardole?”
“It’s a family name,” Nardole scoffed as he stopped at the block’s guard post. It had been abandoned, its previous occupants no doubt engaged with the intruder by now. “In here,” he said as he entered his access code and opened the door, “and no funny business.” We slipped into the post and shut the door behind us. Nardole quickly made his way to the weapons locker and started to unlock it with his code. “So, that means she’s got the genetic makeup of a Time Lord mixed in with whatever human DNA was left over inside their progenitor. Getting birthed by a machine doesn’t really make the Doctor her father, you know. More like her donor.”
“You should be sure to tell her that when she catches up to us.” I sat down at the guard’s desk and quickly located my cell on the monitors. I watched a small flash of red light erupt from the left side of the camera, and then the body of a prison guard crumbled to the ground just in front of my open cell door. Jenny calmly walked over his body, holding new laser pistols in each hand, and peaked inside my cell. “Speaking of catching up, she’s made it to my cell.”
Nardole came up beside me as he snapped a stasis stick to his belt. “Bloody ‘ell she’s good. But not good enough for this.” Nardole patted an odd-looking gun that he rested against one shoulder. I had never seen anything like it during my stay here at Stormcage. It had the menacing look of a laser rifle but the long barrel ended in an odd funnel, almost like a musket from the old days of the British Empire.
“And what does that do?”
“You’ll see. Even Time Lord technology couldn’t protect her from this baby. Now, let’s get moving.”
I watched as he tapped his access code into the exterior door to the room. “And where are we going?”
“The safest place in the entire prison. Come on.”
I didn’t like the sound of that, but even still I hurried through the open door after him. Warning lights blared in the open hallways between the cell blocks. All around us, various prisoners watched from behind their bars, a few of them calling out something in languages I didn’t know, most likely either cursing us or demanding we release them. Either way, we hurried down the hall and through another security door. “She’s leaving the inmates in their cells,” I said to break the tension.
“One war at a time, I suppose,” Nardole said continuing to scan up and down the hallway, keeping a close eye on me as well as what lay ahead. “Here we are then,” he said as he slung the musket across his back. We had stopped in front of a nondescript door simply labeled:
ANY PRISONER FOUND BEYOND THIS POINT SHALL BE DISINTEGRATED ON SIGHT.
“And where is …” I started to say but then my mouth froze shut. Nardole had managed to activate his stasis snare. I could not move any part of my body, although I was completely aware of everything around me.
“Had to do it, Miss Pond,” Nardole said as he came around in front of me. He lifted the snare stick, and I began to hover above the ground. “Only way they’d let us in.” Then he knocked on the door.
“Nardole!” a familiar voice sounded from a viewscreen embedded in the door as the image of a blonde prison guard appeared on it. I knew him, of course. Corporal Patrick Hennessey was one of the guards assigned to my cell block. He had a habit of reporting me missing during my nightly adventures. On a number of occasions he had even tried to stop me. Tried, being the operative word. “Why did you bring her here?”
“It’s Captain, you bloody oaf, and I’ll do as I damn well please in order to see to the safety and security of this facility. Now open this door before I ensnare you and throw you into the pit.” I cringed. The pit was not a pleasant place to visit by any means.
“Sorry, sir,” Hennessey stuttered, and then the door started to click. It clicked at least a dozen times. Then I saw a small force field disengage around the frame. This must indeed be the most secure place in the facility. I wasn’t surprised at all that it had been designed to keep prisoners out and the staff inside well protected. But would it be enough against a warrior Time Lady with a score to settle?
We slipped through the door, and then it closed behind us with the same progression of clicks. The room was dimly lit by two light globes, but when the lightning from outside flashed I could clearly see that I was looking straight down the barrel of a musket identical to the one that Nardole had obtained from the guard post.
“Shall I disintegrate her, sir?” Hennessey sounded from the dark.
At the edge of the light, I watched as the stern blue face of Warden Tarsus appeared and sneered at me. “Why in God’s name did you bring her here, Captain? I ordered you to keep her in her cell.”
“Begging your pardon, Warden,” Nardole said, “but I felt the information she had about Jenny would prove useful in stopping her.”
Tarsus grunted. “This Jenny has proven quite effective against our defenses. Nothing seems to stop her. She’s killed almost 30 guards! No force field or weapon can stop her.”
“Where is she now?”
“Still in Pond’s cell block searching for her. I have every door in and out of that area deadlocked, but I’ve got a feeling she has something in that damned bag to counteract even that.” He stared straight at me. “Release her head.”
Nardole pressed a button on his snare, and I could feel the rush of air on my face as the stasis field dropped around it. Instinctively, I took in a deep breath even though I had been well-preserved inside the stasis field. Of course, I still could not move my arms or legs as I continued to hover above the floor.
“Now then,” Tarsus hissed as he planted his face in front of mine. “Who the hell is she?”
Before I could even attempt to answer, the speakers in the room howled and a female voice sounded. “Melody Pond. I would speak with you now or I detonate the bomb inside my ship. It should easily destroy everything and everyone in this complex, except myself of course. You have one minute to find a way to reply to me, or you die.”