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FIC: Playing by the Rules 1/3?

FIC: Playing by the Rules
Author: NightRider
Rating: PG
Fandom: Doctor Who
Spoilers: None
Beta: The forever amazing starxd_sparrow and souleswanderer
Characters: The Tenth Doctor, Jack Harkness, Rose Tyler
Summary: "You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else." -Albert Einstein
A/N: This was written for the 2009 OT3 Ficathon. I'm writing for callme_al0

“So what’s next?” Rose asked, rocking on the balls of her feet with anticipation.

“What do you have in mind?” the Doctor asked, his hands poised over the controls of the TARDIS. “A sunset in Carseng? Fourteen suns surround that planet. Rather impressive, but sunscreen is a must. Wouldn’t want you to burn, after all. A show on Noldasna, perhaps? It’s been years since I’ve –"

“Doctor,” Jack interrupted, leaning against the console casually. “Why don’t you choose this time? You’ve let Rose and I pick the last six destinations.”

“Well, there was that mishap on Yaredhal,” Rose pointed out.

The Doctor crossed his arms over his chest. “Oi! It wasn’t my fault we landed five hundred years earlier than I intended! We sorted out their government, didn’t we?”

“All of that to say, you pick, Doctor,” Jack repeated, grinning at Rose when the Doctor continued muttering about tyrannical governments and political upheavals.

Rose moved around the console to stand next to Jack as the Doctor keyed in coordinates. “You do realize we’ll be running for our lives in less than an hour.”

Jack wrapped his arm around her shoulders, holding on to the console with one hand as the TARDIS traveled through the Vortex. “So does that mean you’re complaining?” he asked with a wink.

Rose grinned as the TARDIS rematerialized. “Never.”

The Doctor pulled on his coat and walked to the door, pushing it open and ambling outside as his companions followed.

Rose shielded her eyes with one hand as the afternoon suns bathed the marketplace with warmth. People were laughing and talking, some browsing the variety of fruits and vegetables available from the street vendors. A large, furry six legged creature with four eyes and two tails ran towards Jack and as he reached under his coat, he felt the Doctor’s hand on his arm. The animal skipped to a halt and spat what could only be described as a tree limb at Jack’s feet, its legs stretched out and its hind end sticking in the air, two tails waving erratically. A golden collar with a shiny charm was stretched around its neck.

“A walfi,” the Doctor commented happily, scratching the animal behind the ear causing the three legs on the left side to start hitting the ground with enough force to shake the surrounding soil. “You’re supposed to throw the stick,” he added, glancing up at Jack.

“That’s not a stick. It’s half a tree.” Despite his complaints, Jack grabbed the limb, spun twice, and tossed it as best he could. The walfi barked with delight and scampered off, tripping over its legs several times in the process.

“So where are we?” Rose asked.

“Ineokajith,” the Doctor replied, grinning as Rose attempted to pronounce the planet’s name several times.

“You do this on purpose,” she said, bumping him with her shoulder. “We never go to Mars or someplace named Bob.”

“You’d freeze to death if we went to Bob. Not to mention the fact that the air isn’t breathable,” the Doctor explained, oblivious to Rose’s glare.

“Ineokajith,” Jack repeated. “I’ve heard of this place.”

“It’s known for its hospitality, good drinks, and nightlife. I’d be surprised if you hadn’t heard of it.”

Jack rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “No, it’s something else.”

A bell chimed in the distance and people started running. Due to the wide smiles and cheers, it was easy to ascertain they weren’t running for their lives, but rather running towards something.

They tried asking several people what was going on, and eventually the Doctor grabbed a man who was jogging past. The man jerked out of the Doctor’s grip, dusting himself off and glaring. “Sorry to stop you, but could you tell me where everyone’s going in such a rush?”

“What rock have you been living under? The games are today!”

“Right, yes, the games,” the Doctor continued. “What games might those be?”

“If you’d stop yammering, you could go see for yourself!”

Out of habit, the Doctor grabbed Rose and Jack’s hands and started following the fast moving crowd. They skidded to a halt at an outdoor stadium; wooden angled benches surrounded the oval ring marked by rope. People were quickly taking seats. It seemed as though people were fighting for the seats in the middle rather than opting for the ones at the ends of the rows.

“Do you know what kinds of games they play?” Rose asked.

The Doctor shrugged. “No idea.” A man walked out of a tent located at the back of the ring and started towards the center of the grass covered oval. “But I have a feeling we’re about to find out.”

The man stretched out his arms and in a booming voice said, “Today marks the fifth year of Markel’s sovereign rule and with this cherished day comes the opening games!” The crowed erupted in cheers.

“The games are designed to test the three areas of character that we all hold most dear – strength, intelligence, and compassion. Contestants will be challenged and many will not succeed,” the man continued. “As you know, the rules vary depending on the contest.” With a decisive nod, the man said, “For the glory of our king Markel and for all people of Ineokajith.”

“I wonder what happens when you don’t succeed,” the Doctor commented, his gaze traveling over the crowds.

“Not everything has to end in death and destruction, you know,” Jack replied after a woman handed him a mug of ale off a large serving platter. He told her he didn’t have any money, but she said money wasn’t required during the games by order of the king. “My kind of planet,” he murmured over the rim of his glass.

The Doctor took a mug off the platter, using the brief interaction to get the woman’s attention. “So where are the contestants?”

“Have you never been to the games before?” she asked, giving him the same ‘what rock did you just crawl out from’ look the man from the market had given him.

He handed the mug to Rose before sliding his hands into his pockets. “Nope, first time.” He rocked on his heels before adding, “Not from around here.”

“Oh, you’re travelers.”

“That’s a good way to describe us,” Rose said.

“The king normally decides who participates in the games,” she explained. “His method of selection tends to change every year.”

“The king,” the Doctor repeated. “Well, that makes sense.”

“If I might offer a suggestion – find yourselves a seat. It’s safer that way,” she said quietly before carrying her tray towards the crowds of people waving their hands and asking for drinks.

“Safer?” Jack asked after emptying his mug and setting it aside.

While they were chatting with the woman, they neglected to notice the walfi with the golden collar bounding towards them. It spat the same branch at Jack’s feet and retreated several steps, barking loudly and wagging its tails.

“You again?” Jack said, picking up the stick and lobbing it away from the crowd.

“Our first contestant has accepted the challenge!” the announcer yelled to the delight of the audience.

“Oh, great! This should be fun!” Rose said, clapping her hands together. “Why is everyone staring at us?”

“Well, come along, sir,” the man at the center of the ring called, his arm outstretched towards Jack. “You’ve been chosen by Ambrollo, the king’s walfi! You mustn’t keep your people waiting.”

“Um…Jack, I believe they’re waiting on you,” the Doctor said.

Rose grabbed Jack’s arm as he started towards the ring. “We could make a run for the TARDIS.”

The roar of the crowd grew louder as people stood and tried to catch a glimpse of their first contestant.

“You said it yourself – this should be fun! After all, I wouldn’t want to keep my fans waiting.” He gave her a reassuring wink, peeled off his coat, and started for the ring, the crowd nearly beside themselves as Jack waved and bowed dramatically.

“Ambrollo has chosen a fine first contestant!” the announcer said, and if the cheers from the crowd were any indication, they agreed wholeheartedly. The announcer handed Jack a rudimentary spear and started walking towards a fence that separated the ring from the spectators.

“Wait – what’s this for?” Jack called. “Some instructions would be nice!”

“Doctor, we’ve got to do something,” Rose said, clutching the Time Lord’s arm.

Before the Doctor got a chance to respond, iron doors that were shielded by grass were opened and the sound of hissing filled the arena.

“Jack,” the Doctor shouted, but was unable to get his attention. The pit was towards the right of the ring, and the creature that emerged was nearly indescribable. It looked like a huge snake with twelve legs, massive fangs, and a long forked tongue. “Run, you fool!” the Doctor growled.

The crowd froze as they waited for the creature to strike. It slithered towards Jack, three sets of eyes blinking rapidly as it eyed its prey. A woman in the audience shrieked as it neared Jack, and the creature turned abruptly. The small fence offered little protection to the throngs of vulnerable people.

“Hey!” Jack yelled, waving his arms wildly. “Come back here! You’re supposed to be trying to eat me!” When the snake-like animal didn’t turn, Jack grabbed its tail and held on as he was bodily lifted into the air. The animal hissed its displeasure and shook several times before finally managing to dislodge Jack and send him flying across the arena. It seemed to work, though, because the creature turned and started ambling towards Jack, its mouth hanging open revealing razor sharp teeth.

Jack forced himself up using one arm; his other hand was pressed to a gash on his forehead. He blinked several times in attempt to clear his blurred vision.

“Jack, behind you!” Rose screamed. The animal was only a couple of meters from Jack who was struggling to regain his footing.

The Doctor’s hand slipped into his pocket, his hand resting on this sonic screwdriver. The sound was inaudible to humans, but the creature reared back and opened its mouth, a shrill scream echoing around the arena. It turned in a flash and started toward the Doctor and Rose.

The audience screamed in horror and started falling over themselves to get out of the way. The Doctor remained perfectly still, his hand holding the sonic screwdriver in attempt to get the animal as far away from Jack as possible.

“You do have a plan, right?” Rose asked through clenched teeth.

“Nope,” the Doctor replied. “I’m hoping Jack is making a run for it.”

The creature hissed, its mouth falling open as it spun around with lightning fast reflexes and attempted to grab Jack who had just kicked its tail. He managed to dive out of the way and roll to his feet.

“So much for that plan,” Rose muttered.

Jack evaded several attacks from the beast, rolling and twisting away mere nanoseconds before its mouth snapped shut. He backed himself into a corner, waving with one hand and holding the spear with the other. No one knew when he’d managed to pick the weapon up again.

The Doctor pressed the sonic screwdriver again trying to draw the creature away from Jack. Unfortunately, Jack proved to be tantalizing prey and with all the racket and jumping around he was doing, the creature continued to stalk him.

The beast flew forward, its attack almost too fast to see, and Jack dove away, his shoulder taking the brunt of the impact as he rolled across the ground and somehow managed to rise to his feet again. The animal lay in the mangled grass, its head had slammed against the wooden wall and green blood trickled down the side of its face.

People surged to their feet, applauding and cheering as Jack approached the wounded animal with the spear loosely hanging from one hand. Screams to kill it, destroy it echoed from the audience.

Jack looked down at the creature and raised the spear above his head. Everyone froze as they waited for their challenger to claim his victory. The spear angled down and viciously pierced the ground. “I won’t kill it,” Jack muttered, turning on his heel and stalking across the ring.

The announcer approached Jack cautiously. “You must finish the challenge,” he instructed.

“No,” Jack barked. “If this is how the game is played, then I refuse to finish.”

The man nodded and reached for Jack’s arm. “Ladies and gentlemen, I give you your champion!”

“Wait – what?” Jack asked, looking towards the audience, his gaze falling on the wide-eyed faces of the Doctor and Rose.

“This man has shown great compassion! He has finished the challenge!”

The crowd yelled and applauded as people tossed flowers and shiny stones into the ring.

The woman who they’d spoke with before approached the Doctor. “Your friend is amazing,” she said with apparent awe.

“Oh yes, he is,” the Doctor agreed.

“He’s incredible,” Rose said as she waved to Jack.

The Doctor rubbed the back of his neck. “So what happens now?”

The woman shrugged. “Not sure, no one’s ever won before.”

Part 2


( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 5th, 2009 01:14 am (UTC)
Ooh, exciting! Of course they get into trouble within a few minutes of landing on the planet. What else do they expect? Good thing it was Jack and not Rose... no-one's ever won before? eek!

So what does happen next?

Oh, and I concur completely:

“Your friend is amazing,” she said with apparent awe.

“Oh yes, he is,” the Doctor agreed.

“He’s incredible,” Rose said as she waved to Jack.

More soon, I hope! Thanks for taking part in the ficathon :)
Feb. 5th, 2009 02:09 am (UTC)
They do seem to attract trouble, don't they? ;)

Thanks for taking part in the ficathon.

Thank you for helping organize it! It's always a blast. :)
Feb. 5th, 2009 02:57 am (UTC)
“You’d freeze to death if we went to Bob. Not to mention the fact that the air isn’t breathable,” the Doctor explained, oblivious to Rose’s glare.

There really is a Bob. How am I not surprised? *G* For some reason, I find the last line hilarious. Was it supposed to be funny, or am I just strange?

Not ashamed to admit I squealed when I saw you had a new fic! A nice surprise before shutting down for the night.
Feb. 5th, 2009 11:06 pm (UTC)
Nah, you're not strange. I was going for ominous, but funny works too!

Not ashamed to admit I squealed when I saw you had a new fic!

Aww! That's so kind of you to say! Real life has been a royal pain lately so I'm posting a lot less than I normally do. It's nice to know I haven't been forgotten!

Feb. 5th, 2009 04:53 am (UTC)
Yay! I'm so glad you decided to post this right away. :) I loved it!

You have an incredible feel for these three and I love the banter you write. I've probably told you that before (and if I didn't, then I should have!) but it really bears repeating. You had me chortling all through the beginning, especially this:

“You do this on purpose,” she said, bumping him with her shoulder. “We never go to Mars or someplace named Bob.”

“You’d freeze to death if we went to Bob. Not to mention the fact that the air isn’t breathable,” the Doctor explained, oblivious to Rose’s glare.

Really perfect. That is so Ten.

I really like your take on the gladiatorial theme. You build up the tension wonderfully and write a great action sequence.

So now what's going to happen?? I think the tickle in Jack's memory probably has to do with something other than these games. Is the king going to try to name Jack his heir? That's my theory. Looking forward to the next!
Feb. 5th, 2009 11:11 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much!

Banter is one thing I think I'm good at, but I tend to fall down in the plot area. :P

I really like your take on the gladiatorial theme. You build up the tension wonderfully and write a great action sequence.

Thank you! I have to admit there's a bit of Merlin influence with this scene. There's only so many medieval sword fights you can watch before you start getting ideas. ;)

As far as what's to come, your guess is as good as mine! Hopefully I'll have the next chapter done by the end of the weekend. Thanks again for the fantastic review!
Feb. 5th, 2009 07:12 am (UTC)
Lol, Bob. Also, no one's ever won before? Exciting!
Feb. 5th, 2009 11:06 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
Feb. 5th, 2009 01:42 pm (UTC)
Yay! A contest where no one knows the rules or what happens when some one wins- this does seem like the type of thing our intrepid heroes fall into ;)

I can't wait to see where this one goes! Thanks for sharing with all of us
Feb. 5th, 2009 11:08 pm (UTC)
They have a tendency to find trouble wherever they go, don't they? It's all part of their charm!

Thanks for taking the time to respond! It's always nice to hear from you!
Feb. 5th, 2009 11:59 pm (UTC)
Now... Jack can be new king! Or something.
He might have been even better in the fight if he hadn't drunk all the ale before.

You know, I just love the walfi. It's so... fluffy, and slightly stupid.
And Bod is a good name for anything.

As usual with your stories, the characterization is spot on, and the plot intriguing. I'm eager to see what you have in store for the Doctor and Rose!
Feb. 6th, 2009 12:06 am (UTC)
Well, it was only one mug of ale. ;)

I'm so glad you liked the walfi! I actually struggle to think of alien creatures - they usually end up cute and fluffy in my head.

Thank you so much for the kind review!
Feb. 6th, 2009 12:18 am (UTC)
Well, it was only one mug of ale. ;)

I was thinking of Oktoberfest sized mugs. Don't tknow where that came from. :P
Feb. 6th, 2009 12:20 am (UTC)
We MUST go there!!!

I'll be saddling my horse if you need me. ;)
Feb. 6th, 2009 12:33 am (UTC)
Saddle your horse all you like, you're running in the same direction. :P As the Oktoberfest is neither in April nor July but, as the name talls you, in Septembre, our chances of getting there are slit to none existant.
Feb. 6th, 2009 12:35 am (UTC)
I've been told there's a September in 2010 and various other years to follow.

I shan't be deterred! Let's all hope my horse doesn't give out before then. :P
Feb. 6th, 2009 12:45 am (UTC)
Your horse will be fine. I'm feeding it carrots!
Feb. 6th, 2009 01:31 am (UTC)
Yeah! You finally posted, or should I say I finally found it.

I still want a walfi of my very own and wouldn't mind visiting the planet Bob! With your trio of course.

What's this line about not being good at plotting? I love your stories and they're made more brilliant with the fantastic dialogue. Let's see, introduction, hook, line, sinker, action, humor, fun banter...there's plenty of plot. Oh yeah, don't forget the ultimate....what comes next??? WE want more!!

Had I mentioned that earlier, about wanting more? hehe.

It's nice to see Jack winning over the audience from the beginning and then finding when he does what he thinks is 'right' he's actually a winner! Yeah for the good guys. And who doesn't love the Doctor trying to come to Jack's rescue? EEEk! I would have been clutching his arm and peering over his shoulder in terror.

Fantastic start.....begins to drum fingers....need more.
Feb. 6th, 2009 01:38 am (UTC)
Aww! Thank you so much! You're always so generous with your reviews...not to mention the fantastic beta work. :)

As you said, YAY for the good guys! It's nice when they come out ahead.

Fantastic start.....begins to drum fingers....need more.

I've managed a page and a half on the new chapter. :D

Thanks again!
Feb. 11th, 2009 09:30 pm (UTC)
“You do this on purpose,” she said, bumping him with her shoulder. “We never go to Mars or someplace named Bob.”

“You’d freeze to death if we went to Bob. Not to mention the fact that the air isn’t breathable,” the Doctor explained, oblivious to Rose’s glare.

LOL... Bob. I <3 U for that. It's so perfectly them. :-D

As is this...

“Your friend is amazing,” she said with apparent awe.

“Oh yes, he is,” the Doctor agreed.

“He’s incredible,” Rose said as she waved to Jack.

I just love the way you write them. The banter, the teamwork, the way they get into trouble... and then get out of it with classic OT3 style. I can't wait to see what happens now that Jack's won! Is it going to be something nice, or does this planet have more in store for our intrepid trio?

::eagerly awaits more::

Feb. 14th, 2009 11:15 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for the kind review!

I have to grovel for forgiveness. I'm behind on reading your amazing OT3 fic. Stupid real life has eaten all available free time, and since I'm frustrated with said real life, I don't want to read it when I know I can't give it the attention it deserves. I'm praying to have an hour for myself tomorrow. *crosses fingers and toes*

As always, you leave such lovely reviews! It really means a lot to me. :)
( 21 comments — Leave a comment )