with a rebel yell!
PG-13, gen. Theta Sigma and the rebel yell.
“Tell me again,” said Ushas, laconically.
“The console started beeping, and the dimensional stabiliser was all out of
whack, and I hit the ground pretty hard. Still,” Theta said, stretching out on
the bed, “I had a good hour or so to look around before the Gallifrey recall
“It was nice.” Theta sighed deeply, luxuriously, slipping halfway into sleep.
His hands were clasped and there was a rose sitting on his chest, which made
Ushas think suddenly of folktales and corpses.
“Nice,” she repeated.
“Nice,” Theta said.
“Theta, you planned it for days, you stole a broken TARDIS, you crashed a broken
TARDIS so it is now even more broken, you’re in a lot of trouble even for you,
and it was nice. Just nice.” She picked up the rose. “And all you brought me was
“It was nice.” Theta sat up and grabbed back the flower, sticking it
firmly behind his ear. “And I didn’t bring it for you. It’s mine.”
The door opened and Koschei skidded in. “Theta, you’re back.” He paused. “You
brought me a rose?”
“Didn’t bring anyone anything,” said Theta sleepily. “Don’t owe anyone
“Theta, wake up,” Koschei said impatiently. “Lord Borusa wants to see you.”
“Oh, good,” said Theta. “This day just keeps getting better.”
“What did you expect?” Ushas wanted to know. “You stole a TARDIS. You crashed a
TARDIS. He’s not going to be overly pleased with you.”
“And an even lesser degree of overly pleased if you keep him waiting,” Koschei
put in. “Just go and get it over with.”
He kissed Theta’s head before he left. Ushas went back to her work. Theta Sigma
got to his feet, considered brushing his hair or putting on shoes, and then
wandered out as he was. He knocked at Borusa’s door in just the right way, not
too forcefully, not weakly enough to come across as guilty. Theta had had a lot
of practice at knocking on Lord Borusa’s door.
“It’s me,” he said. “You wanted to see me?”
“Such solipsism,” said Borusa, softly. “Come in and sit down, Theta Sigma. Don’t
make yourself comfortable.”
Theta understood. He perched on the edge of the chair, leaning forwards. Borusa
was leaning back, the tips of his long fingers touching. There was a long, long
pause, broken only by the sound of Theta’s hearts in his ears.
“There,” said Borusa, finally. “We have silence. It’s always such a change,
isn’t it, after the hustle and bustle of the citadel. Now tell me, Theta” – his
voice was gentler than Theta had ever heard it – “is there anything you want to
tell me about your recent examination results?”
There was another pause, this time one of confusion. “Um, I don’t know,” said
Theta, after a moment. “They were… examination results.”
“Fairly typical of you, I thought, this latest batch. Mostly mediocre. Some even
suffocatingly so. But there are moments where you forget yourself.” He shuffled
papers, and then turned them round so Theta could see. “Look here, for example,
at this question concerning temporal mechanics as applied to nuts-and-bolts
engineering. A question designed to test skills of application, and
correspondingly demanding. And you, Theta, a low-grade candidate at best, have
answered it clearly, concisely and to the highest standard. Can you tell me why
“A little unorthodox help, perhaps…”
“No.” Theta shook his head sharply, and his hair shifted behind his ears. The
flower began to slip.
Borusa smiled. He reminded Theta a little of a cat, with the same unhurried
grace evident even in his conversation. “A quick denial, there.” Off Theta’s
look, he continued, “No, I believe you. Of course I do. Yours is an enviable
position, Theta. You will be a Time Lord.”
Theta shook his head again. “No, sir.”
Borusa smiled. “Lord Theta Sigma of the Prydonian Chapter. It will happen.” He
shook the papers in his hands. “Fifty percent, fifty-one percent – never
outright failure. Don’t underestimate your pride, my child; you are the product
of a long line of Time Lords, and they had their pride. The occasional
perfect examination answer, well, it won’t stop there.”
He reached out and pulled the flower from Theta’s hair. “A Terran tea-rose,” he
said. “Native to the gardens of an area the natives call northern India. There
were many more items of value you could have taken, but you chose an ephemeral
treasure.” The flower landed on the desk. “There is a certain... sentimentality
in you. And you have that Prydonian spirit of rebellion, naturally.” This time
the smile seemed almost natural, rather than calculated. “You will seek
perfection. You will seek the beauty in all things. And you will be a Time Lord.
When are your final exams?”
“In two months’ time,” Theta answered.
“Good. You may go.”
Theta rose, then paused. “Err, about the crash...”
“No more field trips for two months and clean-up duty for three.”
“Right. Um, thank you.” Theta moved to the door.
“One more thing.” Borusa looked straight into Theta’s eyes. “You can throw
everything away, if you wish. But you must have something to throw.”
Theta’s bare feet made no sound as he walked back through the echoing halls of
the citadel. Ushas was waiting for him, back in the small room that belonged to
him. He missed the flash of red that had been the flower.
“Well?” she asked.
Theta thought about it for a minute. “Next time I leave, I won’t crash.”