"Oh no, not again," said the Doctor.
"So what is it all the soldiers are in a tizzy about?" Romana asked Alpha Centauri, silently wondering what quirk of evolution had lent to the Centauran anatomy a protective dorsal membrane that gathered as if it had curtain pleats.
"Never since the Doctor's last visit to Peladon - the planet, not the king - have we been in greater need of his help!" said Alpha Centauri, making Romana wish that the Gallifreyan hearing range went no higher than, say, Terrans'. "The king's nephew and heir is sowing dissent among the younger nobles! He's trying to hasten his inheritance!"
"What common cause does he make with them?"
"He impugns the queen's champion! He says they secretly love each other!"
Romana passed a weary hand over her eyes. "Haven't I heard this somewhere before?"
"It can't be the same man!" Agron hissed.
"I tell you it is," Mordron said slyly.
"It was thirty years ago he was here, with the Ice Warriors," Agron objected.
"Such has happened before," said Mordron slyly.
"Well, ... But how are we to know for sure?"
"We'll ask him," said Mordon slyly.
"But you can't truly be the Doctor," Peladon II said. "The Doctor vanished years ago. It's said that the girl Sarah Jane enticed him into the mine tunnels and stole his magic, leaving him buried alive."
"Really!" said the Doctor. "Fancy me in that role."
"Now," said Mordon to the soldiers he and Agron had brought with them, slyly, "Lord Agron and I shall enter the throne room and disarm the guards on some pretext or other."
"Yes, my lord," said the captain.
"You will enter one minute later," Agron directed. "The guards and the king you will kill, and when Mordon is king you will be the king's guard."
"Yes, my lord!"
"Wait here." Mordron and Agron proceeded down the hall toward the throne room. When out of earshot of the guards, Mordron muttered - slyly - "What a pack of gits."
"Queen Gwelira," introduced Alpha Centauri, "this is Romana, a Time Lady of Gallifrey."
"How do you do?" said Romana.
"May I present the Queen's Champion, arGebbeck," said Gwelira, indicating a large man with a large sword standing to the Queen's right of her throne here in her audience chamber, who bowed courteously. The ladies-in-waiting waited in vain to be introduced in turn.
"Your Highness, I mustn't mince words or waste time if the Doctor and I are to be any help to you," Romana said. "Is it true that you and your Queen's Champion are lovers?"
"No," said Gwelira and arGebbeck simultaneously.
"It would be shameful," arGebbeck added.
"It would be treason," Gwelira elucidated.
"If it were true I should be banished from Peladon's lands forever," said arGebbeck. "The king, not the planet."
"And I should be burnt at the stake!" said Gwelira.
"So you must understand that we cannot allow this to be casually put about," said arGebbeck.
"It's an affront to the honor of my position and to the sanctity of the true relationship between a Queen and her Champion," said Gwelira.
"How long," asked Romana, "have you been lovers?"
"Twenty years," said arGebbeck.
"Since the second week of my marriage," moaned Gwelira.
"What are we going to do?" cried arGebbeck. "It's not like that fool Tristron's situation, who could run off with his queen in good conscience because King Markon is such a bounder."
"We love Peladon - the king, not the planet - so much, both of us," said Gwelira sincerely.
"Almost as much as each other," said arGebbeck thoughtfully.
"Well, I shouldn't have put it that way," said Gwelira. "We do love the planet, but - You see what I mean."
"What are we to do?" arGebbeck asked.
Romana took a moment to answer. Some instinct had suggested that she would be interrupted by a soap advertisement before the conversation continued.
"We'll ask the Doctor, what else?" she said.
In the TARDIS sat K-9, shut in and left behind again. Just like a real dog. It was obscurely comforting.
Peladon - the king, not the planet - looked at the Doctor thoughtfully for a long moment, then said, "What were we talking about?"
The Doctor was about to say when a page announced the arrival of Mordron and Agron. The former struck the Doctor as a bit foxy; in the woodland animal sense of course, rather than the Jimi Hendrix sense.
"Majesty," said Agron.
"Majesty," said Mordron slyly.
"What can I do for you fellows?" The two nobles were watching the Doctor rather than Peladon (the king, not the planet), which allowed Peladon to signal the Doctor with frantic silent hand gestures that the Doctor read as, These are the nobles who are plotting my downfall. I would be ever so grateful if you would render any assistance whatsoever, but in any case don't agree to buy anything.
"We just came to pay respects to this figure from Peladon's past," said Agron heartily.
"My past? But I never met him before today."
"Peladon the planet," Mordron corrected slyly.
"How did you know I was here?" said the Doctor.
"Oh, it could only have been you," said Mordron slyly.
"We have pictures from the last time," said Agron. "It's the same curly hair, the same buggy eyes, the same prominent nose."
"Fascinating," said the Doctor, quite bemused, as he had changed his face since last visiting the planet. "How perceptive you must be."
Before the subject could be pursued any further however, Romana entered the throne room trailing Gwelira, arGebbeck and Alpha Centauri. Immediately after them entered Mordron's squad of soldiers, who drew swords and shouted, "Death to King Peladon!"
"Quick!" shouted the Doctor. "Through the secret passage!"
This being Peladon - the planet, not the king - the Doctor ought to have been more specific. Peladon - the king, not the planet - Agron, and the courtiers present ducked down one secret passage; the Doctor and Mordron another; and Romana with her party a third.
The attackers however had been chosen by Mordron (well, slyly, yes, but besides that) as much for their ineptitude as for their loyalty to him. The two throne room guards polished off the twelve of them in half a minute; which was not quickly enough, though, to turn around afterwards and find anyone left in the throne room.
Agron was disappointed. The plan had been for him and Mordron to get their visitor from the past off by himself when the soldiers provided their distraction; but with disgusting altruism King Peladon had shoved Agron into his chosen secret passage ahead of himself. Yet as he and Peladon hurried through tunnels with courtiers strung out behind them, he saw another opportunity and took it. "The Queen and her Champion have betrayed you, Majesty!"
"Never!" said the king, with characteristic faith (ick).
"They've just literally led an insurrection against you!" said Agron, and indeed it had looked that way.
"Nonsense," said Peladon, keeping up a brisk pace Agron was hard pressed to match. "That was Alpha Centauri and the Doctor's companion with them. Neither of them would be involved in such a thing."
"The Doctor?" Agron gasped, less from astonishment than exhaustion. "What has he to do with anything?"
"You and Mordron said you recognized him."
"What, him? That wasn't the Doctor's face."
"Some Time Lord business," Peladon shrugged. "I didn't understand it myself."
Agron thought this over as they arrived at the Temple of Aggedor and it was made secure. Agron assisted in these efforts by collapsing on the floor to catch his breath. Our visitor from the past, he concluded, for reasons of his own, is posing as the Doctor.
"This way, quickly," hissed Mordron slyly to the Doctor, guiding him through the tunnels. The Doctor followed curiously, and was led to the old Communications Room. Despite what Alpha Centauri had said earlier, it was not disused nor, at the moment, unoccupied. When Mordron and the Doctor arrived there was a human in a Federation military uniform on watch at the console.
"He's with us," said Mordron, slyly and dismissively indicating the human, whose namebadge said "Forester".
"Good, good," said the Doctor. "... Who is us, and am I one of we?"
"Surely you've returned to Peladon - the planet, not the king - to finish what you started last time?"
The Doctor thought he had finished what had started last time. Obviously Mordron was slyly mistaking him for someone else. Better perhaps to play along and find out whom. "Suppose I have," he said. "Who else is we?"
Mordron smiled slyly. "Who else, but the same allies you had the last time?" He reached for a near console and pressed a button.
Out of an interior door stepped a Martian commander and two Ice Warriors.
"I am Field Marshal Ssukss," said the commander. Puns danced in the Doctor's head, while Ssukss looked the Doctor up and down. "Time has not been kind to you, but it is good to see you on Peladon again - the planet, not the king -
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