the fear of all sums

As a Time Lord, the Cavalier had a kind of sixth sense when it came to disruptions in Time. But even without such an innate ability, it wouldn't have taken a genius to work out that a computerised radar did not belong in Ancient Rome. The Cavalier turned to face the Roman General Titus, desperate for answers.

'How can you possibly have this sort of tech?'

'The Roman Empire is widely recognised as the most powerful and technologically advanced civilization in the world,' General Titus replied simply. He indicated the machine in the corner of the tent. 'This is pretty basic, though. The satellites in the sky provide us with a detailed map of all life forms in the surrounding area.'

'Sorry, satellites?' repeated the Cavalier in disbelief. 'This is impossible!'

'It might seem like magic to you, sir. I imagine they do not have this where you come from.' He looked the Cavalier up and down. 'Come to think of it, where are you from?'


'Is that in Ireland? Yes, I think so. I have a friend in Ireland. We talk all the time on Skype.'

The Cavalier shuddered. Nothing was as it was supposed to be. This was not the Ancient Rome that he had been expecting. He had planned to come to this day, in 218 BC, to see the Roman Empire taken by surprise by the forces of Hannibal, who had braved a dangerous fifteen-day trek across the Alps to attack unexpectedly from the north. Events had spiralled out of control for the Cavalier, of course, when he was attacked...

And then he remembered.

Post-regenerative trauma had apparently caused a very important matter to slip his mind, as the Cavalier only then remembered that someone had been following him, desperate to kill him. He needed to get out of here, to get home. But, as his malfunctioning mind told him, his TARDIS had been destroyed.

He was stuck in Ancient Rome.

And to make matters worse, it was the wrong Rome. 


Romana couldn't believe her dreadful luck. The day had started out so promisingly, with she and the Doctor spending a relaxing morning in the park. Sure, K-9 had randomly transformed into a real dog--and then back again a few hours later--but that wasn't particularly unusual considering what life in the TARDIS was usually like. It was only when they had visited the art gallery that things had taken a turn for the worse.

When a painting mysteriously disappeared in the blink of an eye, the Doctor had taken it upon himself to head off in pursuit. K-9 had tracked it to this place--to the very room that Romana was now trapped in. An incinerator. Why did the Doctor always have to get involved in these things?

'Well,' said the Doctor, holding the recovered painting close to his chest, 'look on the bright side.'

Romana glared at him. They were about to be burned alive--there was no bright side.
'At least we found the painting,' the Doctor finished feebly.

Romana shook her head, despairing. The room was getting hotter by the second. Flames were bursting forth from beneath the grates that they were standing on. In a few moments, their lives would end. The painting of one of the Doctor's old friends from Gallifrey--the Laughing Cavalier--wasn't going to be much comfort to her.

Romana braced herself. This was the end. 'Goodbye, Doctor. Thank you for showing me what I never knew existed. Goodbye, K-9. You really were a good dog.'

'As were you, Mistress.'

Though she was offended, Romana was more interested in the Doctor's demeanour: he was strangely calm given the life-threatening situation.

'What's wrong?' she asked him, her curiosity prevailing even in the face of death. 'Or rather, what isn't wrong? You do know we're going to die, don't you?'

'Always so pessimistic, Romana!' said the Doctor. 'Now, punch me in the face.'

Without hesitation, she punched the Doctor as hard as she could, landing a harsh blow right on the nose, causing him to stagger backwards, recoiling with the pain. A small amount of blood trickled down his top lip.

He wiped it away, staring at his blood-stained hand in disbelief. 'You... You actually punched me!'

'You told me to!'

'I didn't think you'd agree to it quite so easily! You didn't even ask why! I had a whole speech prepared and everything!'

'Oh, but regardless, it made me feel so much better,' replied Romana playfully. 'I think, perhaps, I can die happy now.'

'Maybe you can,' said the Doctor, smiling through the pain, 'but it won't be today.'

The temperature began to rapidly decrease in the incineration chamber, as the three time-travellers breathed a sigh of relief--both literal and metaphorical depending on whether they were robotic dogs or not.

'We're not dying!' Romana cried, embracing her Time Lord friend. 'How did you get us out of that problem?'

'By giving us another one,' the Doctor replied gravely.

The exit door unlocked and swung open, and the sentient security camera hopped over the inch-high threshold to join them in the incineration chamber.

'Incineration has been prevented,' it said. 'A crime was detected in this vicinity, namely one count of assault. Death is not a valid excuse. Justice will be swift.'

The Doctor, seemingly ignoring the security camera's remarks, knelt down to get a better look at the robot.

'K-9,' he said, 'have you got any information on these things? What exactly are they? Who created them, and why? I'd like to know who's to blame. And most importantly, do they have an off-switch?'

'Accessing files,' said K-9, who appeared to be more helpful after his recent reboot. 'These are the Kuricams, Master.'

'Kuricams? What does that mean?'

'They are the future of policing. Not only do they see crimes being committed and record them for future reference, they are sentient and therefore able to carry out the arrests themselves. They are armed with lasers capable of stunning their target, and contain teleport technology to transport prisoners to their holding facilities.'

'What a silly idea!' said the Doctor. 'It's hardly fair. I mean, how are you supposed to convince these things that you won't misbehave again, in exchange for being let off with a warning? At least with flesh and blood police you can turn on the charm. You can't flirt your way out of a crime when you're charged by these things.'

'Well,' said Romana, 'you can't...'

She glanced discreetly over at an oblivious K-9, and the Doctor followed her gaze. The robot dog's ear twitched. He didn't seem to understand.

'It's up to you, K-9,' smirked the Doctor. 'Get us out of this.'

Romana could hear K-9's mechanical brain whirring. 'Master?'

'You must have a flirt setting,' the Doctor wondered. 'Or are you permanently set on smart-arse?'

Seemingly understanding, K-9 trundled forwards, ready to deploy his canine wiles on the unsuspecting Kuricam.

'Might I say,' said K-9, 'that your circuitry looks particularly dazzling?'

'How dare you!' replied the Kuricam, offended. 'I'll have you know that I'm a happily married camera, thank you very much. Away with you, pest!'

K-9 backed away, hanging his head.

'Don't worry, boy,' said the Doctor. 'You can do much better.'

The Kuricam jumped up and down on the spot, demanding attention; its thin mechanical legs looked like they were going to snap under its own weight at any minute. Electricity began to spark around its lens.

'No, don't do that again!' Romana said. 'We'll co-operate. What is it you want from us?'

'You must be punished. A fine must be paid, or you will be arrested.'

'How much do I owe you?' asked the Doctor casually.

The Kuricam thought about this for a moment. 'Sum of total infractions of the law results in a cost to the criminal of 4,650,312 Galactic Credits, and one pence.'

'The penny's important, is it?'

'Vitally so, yes.'

The Doctor patted himself down, knowing full well that he didn't have any money, but stalling for time while he thought of something--anything--that would get them out of this situation. 'I'm afraid I don't have any cash on me at all. I suppose I could start a savings account with a penny and then jump forward a million years to collect on the interest, yes?'

'Unacceptable. Fine must be paid now.'

'Oh, you jumped-up little...! Well, I can't pay, and I'm certainly not going to prison, so it seems we've reached a bit of an impasse.'

'One additional option is available,' said the Kuricam.


'You could make a down payment of some kind, to state your intention to pay the fine in full as soon as possible. You should surrender any item of value.'

'What about my companion?'

'The robot dog is almost worthless.'

'I wasn't talking about K-9.'

Romana punched the Doctor in the arm.

'Getting a taste for violence now, are we, Romana?'

She winked at him. He was just so hittable.

'Look,' he said, 'just take K-9. Keep him impounded until I find the money--which I will do soon--and consider it a promise that I take my standing with the law very, very seriously. Deal?'

'Master?' began K-9 tentatively. 'Should we not discuss this strategy first? I am not sure--'

'Proposition accepted,' declared the Kuricam with a nod, which involved tilting its whole body forward to such a degree that it almost lost its balance.

Romana knelt down beside K-9, and patted him affectionately. 'Don't worry,' she said soothingly. 'We'll be along to rescue you in no time at all.'

'Thank you, Mistress,' K-9 replied.

'Before you go,' the Doctor said to the Kuricam, 'what's so special about this painting? What's going on? Do you know who stole it?'

'Regrettably,we stole it. The man depicted in the artwork is wanted for serious crimes, including unpaid bills and indecent exposure. Kuricam officers detected his likeness and made an arrest, but it seems that we were too swift...'

'Yes, you were,' said Romana. She suddenly remembered the security camera she had seen in the park earlier. 'That was one of your lot, was it?' she asked, having explained the strange sighting.


'You detected the presence of a TARDIS--our TARDIS--on Earth,' realised the Doctor aloud. 'And then you found whatever looked like the Cavalier nearby, in the art gallery. Recognising the image of him, you went in for the arrest. You put two and two together and ended up with about a million!'

The Kuricam didn't answer. Romana had previously found them intimidating, but now that she had observed their tendency to arrest paintings, she found them laughable more than anything else.

'And then you were just going to incinerate the painting because you got it wrong?' the Doctor went on. 'This is art! It needs to be treasured and admired and loved, not burned to smithereens!' said the Doctor in what Romana observed was a curiously impassioned plea in favour of art. She never knew that he was so cultured. He was full of surprises.

The Kuricam said nothing else. It scurried over to K-9 and jumped up onto its back. The two machines disappeared in a teleport glow.

'Well,' said the Doctor, 'that was good. We managed to get rid of two irritating machines in one go!'


The Cavalier hadn't known what to do with himself since discovering the radar. He wanted to do something, to help put the timelines back on track. But without his TARDIS, trapped in this unfamiliar world, he felt helpless. He couldn't stop a tear from breaking out, and hoped that he had managed to wipe it away before General Titus had seen it. The last thing he wanted was to appear weak.

Titus approached the corner of the tent where the Cavalier was sat, and put his arm around him. 'Be strong, stranger. To die and then come back to life can't have been easy, I understand. Merely as an observer, my own nerves are shaken.'

The Cavalier nodded. 'Cheers, pal.'

'I will be here if you want to talk.' General Titus wandered over to the radar and, after a few moments of studying the computer, he swore loudly.

'What is it?' asked the Cavalier, snapping himself out of his contemplation. He could feel sorry for himself later. Now, he had a problem to solve.

'We've caught sight of them.' The General indicated the radar. 'Hannibal of Carthage and his forces are close. They are within range.'

'In range of what?'

< PART ONE          PAGE 2 >