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Kynges Games (3/4)

Title: Kynges Games
Author: lareinenoire
Characters: Ten, Martha, and an assortment of sixteenth-century people
Summary: September 1529. Why are there zombies in London? More importantly, who is creating zombies in London using a device from the fifty-first century? But when the Doctor and Martha find themselves in the middle of the biggest royal divorce case in English history, unexplained zombies are the least of their problems.
Rating: PG13
Prompt: There are peculiar alien goings-on at the court of Henry VIII, but the King hasn't noticed; he's more interested in this charming young woman who's appeared from nowhere, much to Anne Boleyn's annoyance.
Warnings: Zombies, bad puns, humanist jokes, Epic Legal Fail (Ecclesiastical), and unintentional drunkenness.
Notes: Bending canon a little, since the Doctor implies at the end of The Last of the Time Lords that they've never met Henry VIII. The title comes from a line in Thomas More's History of King Richard III.

Chapter 1: Two of Oure Companye Beynge Dead (AO3 version)
Chapter 2: Pastime With Good Company (AO3 version)



iii. The Black Knight

Martha didn't realise until she'd followed the Doctor halfway down a flight of stairs that Lady Anne was right behind her. "After that entrance, do you honestly think I could stay away?" she asked, the mischievous smile catching Martha by surprise.

"I guess not," Martha admitted. "He does know how to make an entrance."

"Not a typical doctor, then."

"No," said Martha, laughing, "that he definitely isn't."

The Doctor was well ahead of them--Martha suspected the lack of heavy, brocade skirts had a lot to do with his relative speed--but he slowed after turning a corner and Martha caught sight of More standing beside a pillar.

"I've been keeping my distance, but it looked to be heading this way."

"Another zombie?" Martha asked.

"I'm not sure," the Doctor said, peering down the dimly-lit corridor. "It was hard to tell under the armour."

"They have armour now? That can't be good."

"Doctor, look." More pointed and Martha nearly jumped out of her skin at the shadow that had just appeared in a doorway some twenty feet away. More was frowning deeply. "I've never seen a man move quite like that before."

The Doctor stared after, squinted, and scrambled for his glasses. "Neither have I, come to think of it."

Martha considered suggesting that they move, especially as the suit of armour plodded toward them, its jerky movements bringing to mind something else entirely--something that made her retreat on instinct. "Doctor, you don't think it's those...ghosts? The ones from Canary Wharf?"

"Cybermen?" He shook his head. "Not quite, no. But I can see how you might confuse them."

She had no intention of admitting how much of a relief that was.

The suit of armour came to a halt directly in front of the Doctor. Though they waited for a good few minutes, nothing happened, even as the Doctor waved his arms vaguely in front of where its eyes presumably were.

"Grandfather's Folly." At the sound of Anne's voice, Martha glanced at her. In all the excitement, she'd forgotten the other woman was there.

"Pardon?" The Doctor was giving her one of his patented Intense Looks, as if the entire world depended on the next words out of her mouth.

Not that she seemed to notice. "That's what Henry calls them. It's his grandfather's badge, the rose-en-soleil," she said, pointing to what looked like an enamelled flower on the breastplate.1 "His mother told him all sorts of mad stories about them."

"What...sort of stories?"

Anne fixed him with a look that made Martha shudder inwardly. "Are you saying they might be true?"

"I'd need to know what they were first." The Doctor reached out very slowly as if to lift the visor, but appeared to think better of it. "Sir Thomas, didn't you mention something about stories?"

More was staring at the suit of armour as if it would jump at him the moment he looked away. "They were all different. I just never expected the one about men made of metal to turn out to be true."

"I need you both--yes, you too, Lady Anne--sworn to secrecy." The Doctor looked from one to the other. "I intend to find out what is causing all this, but I can only do that if nobody knows. Especially not the King."

"But surely he ought to know if this concerns the realm," Anne said. "Have you any ideas?"

"I can't say for certain. You need to trust me."

Her eyes measured him for several moments before she nodded slowly. "Very well, Doctor. I can give you a few days, but no more than that."

It was at that moment that the helmet began to turn very slowly, as if looking at each of them in turn. Martha jumped as a tinny voice emerged from beneath the metal visor, "Incompatible."

Without another word, it turned and started walking back along the passage, leaving all four staring after it in confusion. The Doctor took several steps after it but the suit of armour continued to walk as if it hadn't even noticed. His eyes narrowed.

"That is definitely not meant to be here."

"What do you think you're doing, Doctor?" demanded Lady Anne.

"Following it, of course."

"You don't even know what it is!"

A shadow passed over the Doctor's face. "I have an inkling."

"We should all go," Martha heard herself saying even as the Doctor shook his head. "She's right, Doctor. We don't know what it is. And even if you think you do, who's to say it might not be dangerous?"

"It could have killed all of us right here, but it didn't," the Doctor said. "Incompatible. Whatever it's looking for, it wasn't us."

"We're going with you, Doctor." Lady Anne studied him, torchlight flickering across her face. "No doubt he'll lead us to his master in York Place."

"Are you so sure it's Wolsey?"

"Come now, Doctor, who else could it be?"

"The King, perhaps?" They all turned to More as he said this, his voice flat and wearied. "I do agree, however, that there is only one way to find out for certain."

And so they struck out from Westminster gates toward the darkened city, Anne and Martha's finery concealed beneath dark cloaks. At least, Martha thought, it wasn't as hot now the sun had set. At More's curious insistence, they had taken horses--Martha, who had never sat on a horse in her life, behind the Doctor--and she couldn't help but wonder how much he knew that he wasn't telling them, especially as the thing they followed made his way further and further along the river, through the increasingly cramped streets.

Out of nowhere, it seemed, the massive walls of the Tower of London unfolded themselves against the night sky. The suit of armour plodded through the gates without so much as a word from the guards on duty, though their eyes followed it uneasily.

Martha supposed it shouldn't have surprised her one bit that the Doctor dismounted and strolled up to speak to them himself.

"Fine weather we're having, what?" The two poleaxes that clanged down in front of him didn't seem to bother him. "Oh, come now. You let him in, didn't you?"

Martha, who suddenly found herself in possession of the reins, clung to them for dear life. Beside her, Sir Thomas had gone very pale. "I thought so."

"Thought what, Sir Thomas?" Martha kept her voice low, hoping against hope it wouldn't frighten the horse.

"There are a great many stories about the Tower of London, Mistress Jones. Not the least of which..." He trailed off as the Doctor returned, looking disappointed.

"Not York Place, as you can see, Lady Anne," the Doctor said, eyeing Anne warily. "The Tower is, I believe, the King's responsibility?"

"You can't honestly believe..." Anne looked from him to More. "Henry would have told the world the instant he found such things! Sir Thomas, you of all people don't believe he could possibly have kept this sort of secret."2

The Doctor tilted his head to one side like a cat. "You've got a point. But it could well be that Wolsey's working for the King. After all, why wouldn't he?"

"Because he's failed, Doctor," she spat. "Henry's left him behind in the dirt where he found him."3

"Desperate times and desperate measures." The Doctor looked back toward the Tower, looming and silent against the moonlit sky. "Well, this just got far more complicated, didn't it?"

"All the same, Doctor," More said quietly, "we shouldn't linger here. Not with Mistress Jones and my lady Anne."

At this, the aspiring Queen fixed him with a puzzled look. "Are you so concerned for my safety, Sir Thomas? I would not have guessed."

He inclined his head politely. "It is the King to whom I answer, my lady."

"Of course." She wheeled the horse about. "Then, by all means, let us return."

***


The Doctor was still thinking out loud as they returned to Sir Thomas' house in what Martha supposed had eventually become Chelsea. It really was impossible to map what she saw here onto the London she knew so well.

"...but how did they get here in the first place? That's what I can't pin down. It almost doesn't matter who's in charge. I just need to know where all this alien rubbish is coming from when we're nowhere near Cardiff."

"Cardiff?" echoed More, glancing toward him. "What about Cardiff?"

The Doctor waved his hand. "Nothing, really. Just a rift in Time and Space. But that doesn't explain..."

Martha stifled a yawn as More unlocked a cabinet just beside one of the windows and pulled out a sheaf of papers. The Doctor had gone very still. "You must promise me, Doctor, that you will reveal this to no one."

"Is that...?" The Doctor's eyes were practically glowing with excitement. "You mean you did finish it?"

"Not precisely," More said. "I couldn't, Doctor. It was far too risky. And I thought, foolishly, that perhaps the King might never find out."

"Find out what, Sir Thomas?" Martha finally spoke up, having disentangled the heavy headdress from her hair and set it on a nearby chest. Between it, the wine, and the unexpected ride across London--not to mention what had to be severe dehydration--her head was aching horribly. She resolved to ask the Doctor about alien aspirin.

More turned to her, his face grave. "That his grandfather had made a pact with the Devil and he'd left behind the wherewithal for others to do the same."

Several moments of silence followed that while the Doctor and Martha exchanged glances. "Right," the Doctor finally said, drawing out the word for a second or two. "I'm sure it's not as bad as all that. I mean, the Devil's just a construct, really. I could try to explain to you exactly what's going on here, but that would really disrupt the space-time continuum--"

"The what?"

"Pretend I didn't say that," the Doctor added sheepishly. "That's not the point. The point is that someone is experimenting with alien technology and it shouldn't be terribly difficult to put a stop to it."

"Is that what you did before?"

"Pardon?"

More, the papers still clutched in one hand, was looking intently at the Doctor as if trying once and for all to persuade himself that he wasn't imagining things. "When you were here before, Doctor. That was the story I heard, you see. About a man known only as the Doctor, though every witness who spoke to me claimed it was Merlin in disguise."4

There was a part of Martha that longed to applaud More for leaving the Doctor speechless, but instead she cleared her throat. "What kind of pact with the Devil, if you don't mind my asking?" If there was anything the encounter with Shakespeare had taught her, it was that sixteenth-century people could be convinced that just about anything was the Devil, and that aliens were completely willing to go along with it.

"An army that can't be defeated."

"The walking dead," the Doctor mused, holding out his hand. "Sir Thomas, does anybody else know about this?"

More looked down at the papers before handing them to the Doctor with visible reluctance. "I'm afraid someone might. I didn't want to admit I'd been so foolish, but the more I think on it, the more I wonder..." He took a deep breath. "On the night that I first saw the dead men walking, I'd been dining with Wolsey. I've known him for years; I know as well as any other man that he will say outlandish things just to amuse himself at someone else's expense. But I ought to have guessed this was something different..."

The Doctor was frowning very deeply at the last page of the sheaf More had handed him. "This isn't an ending. It just...stops."5

"My notes were stolen, Doctor. That very night." More sank back against the table. "I hadn't touched them in nearly twenty years, had locked them away in that very cabinet and hadn't told a soul about them. But when I returned from York Place, they were missing."

"What exactly did you tell Wolsey, Sir Thomas?"

"Very little, or so I'd thought. He did most of the talking, to be honest. Something about odd things happening in Wales and stories about Merlin and indestructible armies. I just thought he was poking fun at poor Master Vergil again, but..."6

"Um." Martha had lost track of the conversation when she realised that what she'd thought was just a shadow in the garden had in fact come up to the window and revealed itself to be a well-dressed man not too much older than her. "There's...someone outside."

More spun to face the window, his hand closing round the dagger sheathed at his waist. Moving very slowly, he reached out and opened the latch in spite of Martha's half-formed warning not to open windows to strange men.

"Master Cavendish?"7 More sounded decidedly unsure. "Is something the matter? You look..."

"He's one of them," the Doctor said, having made his way to More's side. "Which, considering who he is, seems to suggest that this thing, whatever it may be, doesn't actually kill people. It just...stuns them, I suppose. Makes the body think it's dead. Empty. A vessel for whoever's in control."

More's expression spoke volumes. Martha, without waiting for either man to do the obvious, dragged herself up from the cushioned bench where she'd been trying desperately not to fall asleep, crossed the room, and pressed her fingers to the man's icy-cold throat. "No pulse," she finally said, after several moments spent telling herself she just had to accept inexplicable things. "If he isn't dead, he's doing a very good job pretending."

"My master bids ye come unto his presence at York Place."

Martha couldn't suppress a shudder at the voice. More and the Doctor were exchanging looks again. "Well, I guess that answers the question of who's in charge of the zombies."

The Doctor nodded. "His waxen wings did mount above his reach, and melting heavens conspired his overthrow."

"Icarus?" More frowned. "Wolsey isn't nearly innocent enough for that."

"Faustus.8 You were the one who said it was the Devil." He sighed. "Seems the Cardinal did it." In one of the moodswings Martha was slowly becoming accustomed to, he turned back to her and grinned widely. "Allons-y!"

____________________________________


1. Rose-en-soleil: The badge of Henry VIII's grandfather, Edward IV. For further details, see The Winter of Our Discontent.
2. Secret: Henry VIII? Not very good at keeping secrets. One need only look at his marital troubles.
3. Failed: Referring specifically to the truncated legatine trial at Blackfriars in June 1529, where Katherine of Aragon refused to countenance an annulment of her marriage and appealed to Rome. Wolsey was therefore unable to keep his promise of a speedy result and Henry became displeased with him very quickly thereafter.
4. Merlin: Well, really, if you were a fifteenth-century person who ran into the Doctor, wouldn't you automatically assume he was Merlin?
5. Stops: The extant English text of More's History of King Richard III is unfinished. When it turns up in sixteenth-century chronicles, it is interpolated into an English translation of Polydore Vergil's Anglica Historia. Nobody is entirely sure why More didn't finish it, and evidence of alien robots sounds like as good an explanation as any.
6. Vergil: Referring to Polydore Vergil, who wrote the first full-length history of England from its supposed founding by Brutus of Troy to the end of Henry VII's reign in 1509 (later extended to cover the reign of Henry VIII until 1537, but not until he was safely dead). He is generally sceptical of all things Arthurian. He also hated Wolsey with a passion, and Wolsey repaid him by throwing him briefly in prison.
7. Cavendish: George Cavendish was a gentleman usher of Wolsey's who retired from court after Wolsey's death and eventually wrote a prose biography of his former employer. He also wrote a collection of verse tragedies titled Metrical Visions, where ghosts narrate their stories in first person. It is the assertion of this fic that having spent some undetermined amount of time as a zombie had something to do with that.
8. Faustus: Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus, in fact, Prologue.21-2.

Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
gehayi
Mar. 9th, 2010 02:53 am (UTC)
Well, really, if you were a fifteenth-century person who ran into the Doctor, wouldn't you automatically assume he was Merlin?

Not to mention that according to at least one story in the Doctor's canon, he WAS Merlin.
lareinenoire
Mar. 9th, 2010 01:19 pm (UTC)
Yes, in Battlefield! tree_and_leaf and I watched that last year and it was so much fun, in spite of Morgan le Fey's gold lamé fetish.
tree_and_leaf
Mar. 10th, 2010 09:05 am (UTC)
Are you sure it wasn't partly because of the gold lamé fetish? (I don't think my housemate ever quite believed I was sane again...)
lareinenoire
Mar. 10th, 2010 02:38 pm (UTC)
Hee! It very probably was!
alstaria
Mar. 9th, 2010 05:11 am (UTC)
I love this fic so very much!
persiflage_1
Mar. 9th, 2010 07:32 am (UTC)
Eee! You posted!! :D :D :D

I can't wait to find out more!
yalegirl03
Mar. 10th, 2010 03:10 pm (UTC)
This is so good.
tempestsarekind
Mar. 21st, 2010 10:54 pm (UTC)
So I *finally* got a chance to read this! And, yay. I love it.

Also, I am very pleased that you had Martha worried about Cybermen--she so would, because of Adeola. (Appropriate icon is appropriate!) Also, the Doctor as Merlin! I loved it in "The Winter of Our Discontent," and I love it here.
lareinenoire
May. 2nd, 2010 01:57 pm (UTC)
It just occurred to me that if Martha ever saw a robot in armour, the first thing to come to mind would be Cybermen (it certainly would for me!). And there really needs to be fic where the Doctor either meets Merlin or is Merlin. Or possibly the Doctor and Geoffrey of Monmouth...
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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