Chapter One, Part One: Red-HandedMature

“Look there, my Lord...,” a voice squeals, “... he’s waking up.”

But the screech of a bucket being scrabbled over by small feet is the first thing the Doctor hears.

“What happened? Did the Ceremony turn out well?” he breathes, pushing up against the wall to a sitting position, “... forgive me, but I don’t remember leaving...”

Eyes turn on each other, Borusa’s and a helmeted guard’s, trading worrying glances of blue daylight and silver metal unibrow, respectively.

“... you didn’t leave. You had to be carried out after collapsing during your official reading of the Last and Final Remarks Regarding Induction of New Officials. Just a small little tear, really, but it forced us, with Flamina’s consent, to delay the rest of the proceedings. How do you feel?”

The Doctor rubs his gritty eyes and yawns.

“I don’t remember doing that.”

He reaches up to check his head for lumps and bits of dried blood, but Borusa slaps his hand away with an exasperated exhalation about a bruise.

“I wouldn’t go touching things now...” she mutters, standing on a suspect wooden pail as she pushes his rabbit hair away from his temples, “... the fall gave you quite a concussion. But now you’re awake, it ought to heal fairly quickly, so if you can put on clothes without falling, do so. Then go with the guard to the Lesser Inquiries Room. I need to discuss something with you about a new issue that’s fallen into our lap and all my materials are there. Take care, Doctor.”

As Borusa leaves, the Doctor blinks once, twice, holding the movement so he can make sense of the words floating in his head.

The End

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