"Madam, I fail to see how this will yield a tactical advantage."
"As I have told you, Strax, the Doctor needs all the information we can gather about the newly-added asteroid to the Shadow Proclamation. As I shall be accompanying him in a protective role when he approaches the Shadow Architect directly, it's up to you and Jenny to attempt to gain access to the complex in case we are unsuccessful."
"But Madame- will they not be suspicious if me and the boy go together as comrades to storm the compound?"
"That is why, should anything happen, you are to act as a subtly as possible- no matter what."
"Begging your pardon, Ma'am. What 'appens if the Judoon get on to us?"
"We shall all be brought up on charges, and I fear the Doctor himself will once again face the full wrath of the Shadow Proclamation. That is why it is imperative they suspect nothing."
"And what 'appens once we find out whether this... Captain Jack friend of the Doctor's is in the new complex, Ma'am?"
"We shall retrieve him swiftly and then blow up all the asteroids in the belt for the glory of the Sontaran Empire," declared Strax proudly.
"No! There can be no explosives, Strax. The fourth compound is heavily guarded. Very few weapons of any kind are allowed in. That is why it is so important you two give nothing away. You are simply ambassadors who are there to ensure the tightest security of the prisoner's holding area."
"Yes, Madame," sighed Strax in resignation.
They had gotten to the Shadow Proclamation and past the first Judoon guards easily. Then, a visionary recognized the Doctor as the Time Lord he was, and they were all forced to split up, Vastra doing her best to keep the Doctor out of prison, and Jenny convincing Strax to walk as calmly as he could march in the opposite direction.
The pair of them had been able to move about almost freely, until Strax spotted a platoon of Judoon heading for them. He immediately reached for a gun, before realizing there was none at his side.
"It seems they have us outnumbered, son. We have no choice. We shall have to take them by surprise. On the count of three, you attack those on the left, I shall charge the ones on the right."
"No, Strax! You heard what Madame said: we've got to act as non-threatening as possible. Now come 'ere and take my hand," hissed Jenny.
Strax turned to see the advancing guards, his compact body aching with the chance to get his hands on any one of their weapons, before he felt the jarring, deceivingly firm grip of Jenny on his arm. He scowled at the Judoon, prepared for glorious death in the fight to get past them, when Jenny quietly whispered in his ear.
"It's been fun, boys, we've really gotta do this again sometime!" said Captain Jack Harkness as he was escorted off of the Shadow Proclamation's hidden fourth asteroid to the receiving area of Asteroid One.
"Doctor!" he exclaimed, immediately going up to and enthusiastically hugging the bound and gagged man who seemed to be carefully guarded by a Silurian woman with a dangerous expression.
"Captain Jack Harkness," he said as he turned to her with a large smile. "And who might you be?"
She turned a darker green and something that very nearly resembled a smile played at the corners of her mouth as Jack heard a muffled groan from the man next to her.
"Just saying hi, Doc," he assured him.
"Madame Vastra," the Silurian introduced herself, standing tall and every inch the dignified creature from a proud and advanced race.
"Charmed, I'm sure," said Jack with delight, grinning at her before turning to nod toward his old friend. "What's he done now?"
"We can discuss the details later- the Shadow Architect agreed to allow him to leave in peace as long as the gag remains in place for the remainder of his time at the Shadow Proclamation."
The Captain grinned mischievously at this, before walking up to the Doctor and leaning on him conspiratorially.
"To think Doctor, all I had to do to have you at my mercy was get caught with the royal family of Antar with their pants down. Figuratively speaking, of course," he added with a wink, his eyes twinkling at the Doctor's annoyed and nearly silent squirming. "Funny, all this time I figured when I met you again it would be because of that delectable wife of yours- you got great taste, I'll give you that." The Doctor gaped silently (Jack was sure if he could move his mouth it would be wide open) before glaring at him with as much outrage as a Time Lord equivalent to a petulant child stomping his foot could manage.
"So, Green, I'm assuming you're the one to thank for my release?" Jack asked, turning once more to Vastra as they both ignored the Doctor's muffled ramblings.
"Actually, Captain, while the Doctor's plan to procure you freedom was rather clever for a mammal, we spent the majority of our time here being either hunted or begging our freedom. The only explanation I think of for your release is that somehow Jenny and Strax convinced the Shadow Proclamation to let you go."
Jack looked around, wondering where his rescuers were, when a squadron approached in tight formation, before breaking to reveal one of the strangest sights Jack had ever seen in his long, long life. A Sontaran dressed in a suit with his arm stiffly around a pretty young girl in a modest catsuit- she had her own hand on his chest, patting him in an entirely awkward attempt at affection.
"I apologize for the confusion again, Mr. and Mrs. Strax. As you must be well aware, our desire is to administer justice throughout the universe. Had we any idea that Mr. Harkness was working as an agent to expose their corruption, we would have of course offered our assistance in their arrests."
"Yes, well, my... erm- husband and I don't often approve of the subversive spying methods, but this time, he convinced me it was necessary to draw out the enemy first, before crushing them mercilessly beneath our feet like the worthless scum they are."
"You'll 'ave to excuse 'im. 'asn't been the same since the war- sometimes 'e gets confused," said Jenny, looking at Strax in warning even as she hesitantly patted his head in what was surely meant to be a fond gesture but really seemed like no more than a firm and subtle shove.
"Oh, and which war was that?" asked the Architect, intrigued by this couple and the poor Sontaran's fate.
"All wars are fought jointly in spirit to maintain the glory of the Sontaran Empire!"
Jenny glared at him once more, before looking sheepishly at the Shadow Architect, pulling Strax along as quickly as she could once she caught sight of Vastra out of the corner of her eye.
"Well, now that we've got our dear Mr. Harkness back with us, we really must be going."
"Of course, Mrs. Strax," the Architect nodded in understanding. "And I understand you wish also to take the Doctor and his companion along with you?"
"A mighty warrior, feared by all who-"
"What he means to say is- don't worry about the Doctor, we'll make sure to keep an eye on 'im."
"Ma'am," said Jack with a tight salute to Jenny, acting the faithful servant to the young maid and newly appointed "Ambassador of the Whirlwind Galaxy," and her unusual, war- beaten Sontaran spouse, who turned for a final speech to the surrounding guards.
"I wish to express my great disappointment that we did not come to blows during this arrangement, and furthermore, I hope to meet you all once more on another field of batt-" began Strax, before Jenny, a hand on his lower back, with help from Vastra, who was tugging his arm, pushed him into their ship before he had the chance to insult the great police force of the universe and hinder their escape. Jack led the Doctor up to their borrowed spacecraft, taking great delight in making the still- bound Time Lord squirm as they left the Shadow Proclamation and flew the short distance to the TARDIS.
Once they had returned the ship, the frustrated and angry glares and grunts from the Doctor had finally convinced the others to unbind him and take off the gag from his mouth so he could fly the TARDIS. Whilst everyone decided to ignore his disgruntled mutterings, Jack introduced himself to Jenny.
"Unhand my husband, you fiend!" shouted Strax, lifting a hand as he stood protectively in front of Jenny as the new passenger attempted to disarm the boy with invisible mind tricks.
"I told you Strax, that wasn't real," soothed Jenny, pulling the Sontaran away from a flirtatiously grinning Jack. "That was only so we could stay undercover and avoid arrest at the Shadow Proclamation."
"Nonsense! Sontarans have no use for this undercover business. No, we prefer to face our enemies head on, declaring our intent to utterly destroy them!"
"Yes, but we needed to study our enemy first- prepare for any future attacks by knowing the schematics of the complex. And the only way to do that without being arrested was to... pretend."
"Ah! So we were only pretending to be married! " declared Strax with a delighted smile in gleeful understanding.
"Yes!" yelled Jenny and Vastra in relieved unison.
"So, was the entire relationship a lie then?"
"Well, do you love me?" asked Jenny with a raised eyebrow.
"Sontarans do not love, only show great indifference to those whom they wish to kill."
"So you see, Strax. You've only learned the new battle technique of stealth, and there is no affection at all between us," Jenny reassured her friend.
"Of course!" he said, a thrilled expression taking over his face. "This lie has been to our advantage! Now that we know their layout, I shall start planning the attack!" He turned before Jenny and Vastra had a chance to protest, before turning quickly once more to poke Jack firmly in the chest. "All the same," he said, staring at Jack suspiciously, "Madame, you'd best keep this one away from the boy. I believe she may too try to use undercover tactics to discover the young man's personal schematics. I have my eye on you, girl," he breathed out with a huff, staring Jack down as he walked backwards toward a table to plan his aspired attack on the Shadow Proclamation.
"Quite the team you've got now, Doctor," commented Jack dryly.
"Hmm," he grunted, still resentful at having been forcibly quieted for so long.
"Actually, Captain, Strax and I usually work with Madame Vastra," piped in Jenny, walking forward to pat her arm in the first true affectionate manner Jack had seen yet from the girl.
"Well, then, Ma'am, must I say what an honour it's been to have been rescued by such an impressive team. Any woman who can command the loyalty of a Sontaran to the point he would enter a fake marriage just to rescue a stranger is more than remarkable in my book. And you, Miss Jenny- the woman who could convince him to do so and keep him in line is worthy of a praise far greater than I can find words for. It was a pleasure meeting you both. Consider me very much in your debt," he said, bowing ostentatiously.
"Oh, please, Jack, enough with the theatrics and just say thank you," moaned the Doctor.
"So you did miss me, huh Doctor?"
"Yes yes, enough of all that- now, when did you meet my wife?" asked the Doctor, remembering the Captain's earlier comments and very much hating not knowing what had happened.
"Spoilers," said Jack with a wink, opening the TARDIS doors before running out of the them blindly.
"Ah, home sweet home," they heard him shout, before the TARDIS took off once more.
"Strax," said the Doctor, stopping the Sontaran from leaving with a hand on his shoulder, "do me a favour, Old Boy. Take care of them for me."
"I shall do my best to guard my non- husband and his mate from all threats, Doctor. For the glory of the Paternoster Street Empire."
"Good man," said the Doctor with a proud pat on the back, releasing him and leaning against the TARDIS doors, watching wistfully at the odd picture his three friends made as they all helped one another through the snow when they too returned home. And then he smiled. Perhaps it wasn't all a lie after all.