|Where the Moon Howls
Author: Coru PM
Rose and the Ninth Doctor end up in Scotland and face a werewolf, warrior monks and a rather irritable monarch. Part of 'A Man Who Wasn't There', Alt!Series 2. Follows 'All Human Ills' and the first TardisodeRated: Fiction K - English - Drama/Adventure - Chapters: 2 - Words: 9,784 - Reviews: 8 - Favs: 18 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 09-02-08 - Published: 09-01-08 - Status: Complete - id: 4513560
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: I don't own anything, BBC owns it all.
AN: Eternal gratitude to Bonnie for beta reading and fashion commentary :-D
Her head was resting on something soft, and small, gentle hands stroked her brow.
She groaned as she woke, but furtive fingers pressed against her lips.
"Shh," a woman's voice murmured tearfully. "You mustn't make a sound."
Rose blinked, winced against the faint light and slowly sat up, staring at the lovely noblewoman whose lap she had so recently been using as a pillow. "What?" She managed, finally.
"They said if we scream or shout, then he will slaughter us," the woman's frightened gaze was focused beyond Rose, to the other end of the room.
She gradually became aware of the others in the cellar, all chained together, with eyes locked in terror behind her. She took a deep breath and turned. There was a cage in the darkness of the far corner, and a man in a dark robe curled at it's centre. She frowned. "But...he's in a cage. He's a prisoner, same as us."
"He is nothing like us," the Lady corrected, shrinking back. "That creature is not mortal."
A low chuckle emerged from the enclosure, and the man within it rocked back. Eyelids fluttered, then shot open to reveal the inky pitch of inhuman irises.
Rose slowly drew to her feet, inching forward.
"Don't," the Lady whispered, her voice catching. "Don't, child."
"Who are you?" Rose didn't take her eyes from the creature.
"Don't enrage him," one of the men whispered harshly.
"Where are you from?" Rose continued to move cautiously toward the cage. "You're not from Earth, what planet are you from?"
The creature tilted its head and peered at her. "Ooh...intelligence," it whispered.
"Where were you born?" She tried a different angle, trying to remember the sort of things the Doctor tended to say in these situations.
"This body?" It chuckled again. "Ten miles away. A weakling, heartsick boy; stolen away at night by the brethren for my cultivation. I carved out his soul and sat in his heart."
Rose shivered but didn't look away. "Alright," her eyes hardened. "The body's human...but what about you? The thing inside?"
"So far from home," the voice was thready and pained.
"If you wanna get back home, we can help," she offered, clenching her fists around her chains.
"Why would I leave this place? A world of industry, of workforce and warfare. I could turn it to such purpose."
"How would you do that?" Rose scowled. "You can't take over the whole world from Scotland."
"I would migrate into the Holy Monarch," it hissed.
"What, you mean Queen Victoria?"
"With one bite, I would pass into her blood...and then it begins. The Empire of the Wolf!" the creature leapt for the bars, wrapping its human fingers around metal. "You offer help? You're melting from the inside," it let out a dark laugh. "Little girl, lost in the woods."
"I don't know what you're on about," Rose stepped back. "I'm not melting."
"There's something of the wolf about you," it whispered. "You burn like the sun, but all I require is the moon." It pressed its face against the bars. "Big, bad...wolf," its voice turned sing-song and its laughter followed her as Rose stumbled back to the relative comfort of the others.
"I warned you, miss," the Lady murmured, embracing the younger woman gently. "It will destroy us all."
Rose shivered and stared at her hands, twisted in the voluminous servant's skirts. "It won't get the chance," she said finally, wrapping her hands around the chains again. "It's gonna kill us anyway? Well we're not gonna sit here and wait for it. Come on, get up, pull!"
"They took them to the cellar!" Sir Robert was running as fast as he could, but as soon as he pointed in the direction of the makeshift prison the Doctor outstripped him by far.
It seemed as if there were an endless supply of strange corridors, but it didn't take them long to reach a plain wooden door – and only half a heartbeat longer for them to kick it open.
"Where the hell have you been?"
The Doctor released a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding. That voice had greeted him, and that voice was angry! Angry meant alive! He was grinning even before he turned to face the danger – and for a moment merely blinked at it.
"Blimey," he whispered, eyes wide. He watched as the beast struggled to break the bars of its cage...and quite quickly realized that watching this particular process was probably a bad idea. He hustled the others out of the room and sealed the door behind them.
Inside the cellar, the wolf howled.
The servants – the proper ones, all of whom had actually been hired by Sir Robert at some point – were quickly preparing to fight the creature. The women, led by Lady Isobel, had run to escape while the men armed themselves.
The Doctor for his part was busy thinking, and attempting to remove the manacles from Rose's wrist at the same time. "There're thousands of species from any number of worlds who rely on light for energy. I hate rust, why can't anyone take care of their equipment any more?" He opined quietly, adjusting the sonic screwdriver settings. "Did it say what it was after?"
"Queen, the Crown, the throne – you name it," Rose shrugged. "Can't you narrow it down at all, figure out how to stop it?"
"Nope, too many variables," he let out a slight whoop as he undid the chains. "This one's mutated anyway, too many years on Earth with too little energy. Probably got six moons on its home planet."
"Doctor, it said -" there was a thumping from outside the room and he held up a hand to silence her. He crossed the room quickly, and then cautiously stepped into the hall.
The creature was at the opposite end of the corridor; he could smell its breath even at that distance, and for a moment they simply stared at one another. The beast moved forward and the spell was broken – the Doctor darted back inside and grabbed Rose's hand, once again pulling her away from the beast.
He paused behind a line of armed men, shaking his head. "The guns aren't good enough! Once you've distracted it you have to run, just follow me!" He didn't wait to see if they listened, only making sure that his grip on Rose didn't falter as they ran up the back stairs.
"Sir Robert!" Queen Victoria's voice reached them before she came into view, rapidly descending from the upper floors. "What's happening? I heard such terrible noises."
"Your Majesty, we've got to get out," Sir Robert bowed his head nervously. "But what of Father Angelo, is he still here?"
"Captain Reynolds disposed of him," she replied, pursing her lips. "Now -"
"Door's boarded shut," the Doctor said suddenly; Rose hadn't even noticed him wander out of the room. She inclined her head toward him and he shook his head. "From the outside, screwdriver's no good through wood. Ever climb out a window, Your Majesty?"
Victoria looked rather shocked, but followed as he led them to another room.
Although Sir Robert kindly offered to go first and assist the others, his attempt was rather aborted by the sudden gunfire aimed at their window. The Doctor narrowed his eyes, peering down at the monks surrounding the house.
"Well," he shrugged. "The night just got a bit more interestin'."
"Do they know who I am?" The monarch sounded rather offended.
"Yeah, that's why they want ya. The wolf's lined you up for a... a biting," Rose answered, chewing her bottom lip.
"Now, stop this talk. There can't be an actual wolf," Victoria's tone was firm.
"Bloody thick," the Doctor muttered, earning himself a sharp look from Rose. A howl echoed through the house, jolting the small party to their feet. "Ah."
"What do we do?" Rose sounded a bit panicky – but he supposed it was only fair, it had been a long day...and night.
He grinned at her. "What we always do!"
"Run?" She suggested, her tongue just peeking out behind her smile. "An' that's it, that's your whole plan?"
"Unless you've got silver bullets in that bodice?" He waited a moment for her to shake her head in the negative, and then turned to the queen. "Your Majesty, I hope you're wearin' comfortable shoes."
"What?" Victoria was once again shocked and confused. With no further explanation, he took her arm and pulled her, at top speed, up the stairs.
A sudden crash from behind drove them forward, he pushed them yet faster up stairs, down halls and still – still it gained. He pushed Queen Victoria toward Sir Robert and dropped to the back of the group, preparing to shove himself between the beast and the others – for half a heartbeat he saw Rose stumbling; she recovered and ducked around a corner – but then someone else was suddenly beside him, a gun was fired and the beast went tearing away in the opposite direction.
The soldier was panting as he joined them, though he quickly fell to reloading his weapon. "I'll take this position and hold it. You keep moving, for God's sake!" His eyes slid to the queen. "Your Majesty, I went to look for the property. It was taken; the chest was empty."
She shook her head. "I have it," she informed him quietly. "It's safe."
"Then remove yourself, Ma'am. Doctor, you stand as Her Majesty's Protector," he cocked his pistol, eyes dark. "And you, Sir Robert, you're a traitor to the crown."
"Very good, recriminations – fantastic time for it," the Doctor's expression was flat. "You know you can't stop that thing with bullets."
"I can buy you time," the captain took a deep breath. "Now run!" There was no hesitation from the nobles – the queen and Sir Robert were already running down the hall as fast as they could.
The Doctor met his eyes for a brief moment, then nodded shortly. He sprinted after them, trying not to think about the gunshots cracking through the air behind him...and then not thinking about the screams that followed.
"Right then, we'll -" the Doctor stopped and counted the people in the room. He spun around and burst into motion – Rose had frozen just outside the entrance to the library, and the wolf was bearing down on her. He had an arm around her waist as he hauled her to relative safety. He took a deep breath and released her, turning quickly to Sir Robert. "We've got to block the door, pick up anything that's heavy an' can be moved!"
They moved quickly, utilizing every piece of furniture that their combined strengths could move to barricade themselves in. On the other side, the wolf howled but made no attempt to force its way through the doors.
"What's it waitin' on?" Rose whispered fiercely.
"Bit of hush, please!" The Doctor held up a hand, leaning over their blockade. "There," he muttered, pressing his ear against the door. He closed his eyes.
He opened his eyes and stepped away, following faint creaking along the wall. Rose opened her mouth but her held up a hand, and she bit her lip instead.
"Are there any other doors?" The Doctor murmured as he passed Sir Robert.
"No," he frowned, then his eyes widened. "Yes!" They dashed across the room, adding a fresh pile of debris to the far wall.
Rose hushed them both, standing in the centre of the room. "It's not trying to break it, why isn't it?"
"Somethin' is stoppin' it," the Doctor glanced around. "Somethin' in here, it doesn't make sense. Rose," he grabbed her shoulders a bit too firmly. "Did it say anything else when you were with it? It wants the Queen, what else did it say?"
She bit the inside of her lip and glanced to the others nervously. "It...it didn't really say anything," she lied. "Just nattered on about the moon."
"Nothing helpful anyway," she said, more firmly. "Really, all it said about itself was it needs the moon."
He gave her a long look, but nodded. He took her hands and held them out, glancing over her. "You're alright then?"
"Yeah, I'm fine," she shrugged and allowed herself to be pulled into a loose embrace. She rested her head on his shoulder and let out a breath. "How 'bout you?"
"Hmm?" He looked down at her, looking for all the world as if he were actually paying attention to her words and not a bit of mind to her proximity.
"You okay?" She repeated.
"'Course," he nodded. "Always alright, me."
"Liar," she nudged him. "Though...I gotta say...werewolf? Top of the line date."
"Do me best," he grinned at her. He glanced past her, to where Queen Victoria was watching them. "You, Your Majesty? Not hurt are you?"
"No," she replied softly.
"I'm sorry, Ma'am," Sir Robert's voice came quietly from behind her. "It's all my fault. I should've sent you away. I tried to suggest something was wrong; I... thought you might notice. Did you think there was nothing strange about my household staff?"
"Bald, athletic blokes and a wife gone away?" The Doctor shrugged, allowing Rose to slide from his grasp. "Not my place to judge."
"Is it funny to you, sir?" Victoria's voice was sharp. "This...this creature amuses you?"
"Not particularly," he shook his head. "Just a point of interest, really."
"Interest? What is it then, which you find so fascinating? What is that creature?"
"Lupine wavelength haemovariform," he answered, a bit smugly. "Might as well do to call it a werewolf though. Same principle."
"And what does that mean?" Her chin raised defiantly. "A creature from beyond? A spirit? What magics do you toy with, Doctor?"
"Not magic," he corrected. "Science, Your Majesty. Just something from another world, tryin' to take over this one. Like convertin' the Romans to Christianity; once they had the Emperor it was easy."
"I do not believe this," her voice shook slightly. "These things cannot be."
"Now don't do that," the Doctor frowned. "You're ruler of one of the greatest Empires in the history of the world, I know how clever you are. You wouldn't still be alive if you weren't, and this is just disappointing."
"Clever?" Victoria glared at him. "What has this to do with cleverness? Shall cleverness defeat the beast?"
He paused, crossing to bookshelf nearest the door; he picked up a large tome and hefted it slightly in his palm. "Oh, yes," he grinned. "Absolutely."
Books were piled on every flat surface, half of them opened and stacked upon one another – relevant pages bookmarked and noted.
Sir Robert's late father might have been brilliant, but he had hidden his research well – the fiction deeply disguised the reality. Half a dozen Gothic novels hid a single history of the region, and a dozen more children's fairy tales before the Doctor found the volume that held the key.
"Somethin' crashed," he laid the book open atop the pile. "Spaceship, or close enough."
"'In the year of our Lord, 1540,'" Sir Robert read aloud. "'Under the reign of King James the Fifth, an almighty fire did burn in the pit.' That's the Glen of Saint Catherine just by the Monastery."
"Must've spent years growin' itself back," the Doctor mused. "The host would've died in the crash, it transferred itself to the nearest human and spent a couple centuries gettin' strong enough to take full control."
"But, three hundred years?" Rose questioned, dubiously.
"Oi, how long did it take you lot to stop swingin' from trees? I don't think you should be commentin' on the pace of evolution."
"But," Sir Robert attempted to bring them back on track. "Why does it want the throne?"
"The Empire of the wolf," Rose murmured. "'S what it said."
The Doctor placed his hands flat on the table, looming intently. "The Victorian age of technology," he winced. "Steam-powered trips to the moon, coal-driven space stations. Paradox, end of the world."
"Just means we gotta stop it," Rose pointed out.
"Sir Robert," the queen stood again, clutching her small handbag. "If I am to die here -"
"Don't say that, Your Majesty," he begged.
"I would destroy myself rather than let that creature infect me, but that's no matter. I ask only that you find some place of safekeeping for something far older and more precious than myself."
"Fine time to worry 'bout jewellery," the Doctor muttered.
"This is far more than jewellery, Doctor," Victoria replied calmly. She undid the clasp of her bag and pulled forth her treasure – a large, perfect diamond.
"Is that -" Rose shook her head. "That's the Koh-I-Noor!"
"Beautiful," the Doctor breathed.
"Given to me as the spoils of war," Victoria took a deep breath. "Perhaps its legend is now coming true; it is said that whoever owns it must surely die."
"Sort of the definition of heirloom," the Doctor glanced at her. "Probably got more to do everyone realizin' how much easier it is to get a beautiful diamond off the dead than the living." He held out his hand, cradling the gem gently as Queen Victoria handed it to him.
"How much is that worth?" Rose marvelled, leaning over his shoulder.
"Oh, 'bout the combined wages of the planet," he paused and grinned. "For a week."
"Good job my mum's not here. She'd be fighting the wolf off with her bare hands for that thing."
The Doctor had a silly smile on his face, earning himself a sharp jab in the ribs. "Oi, did I say a word?"
"You were picturing my mum being eaten by the wolf – don't deny it!"
"Wasn't gonna," he grinned. She sighed and rolled her eyes. Sir Robert began to pace, twisting his hands nervously and muttering to himself.
"Not a bit of a risk, bringin' it with you?" The Doctor raised an eyebrow.
"My annual pilgrimage – I'm taking it to Helier and Carew, the Royal Jewellers at Hazelhead. The stone needs re-cutting."
"Oh, but it's perfect," Rose breathed, still staring at it.
"My late husband never thought so."
"And that's the truth," the Doctor nodded, prodding the jewel gently with one elegant finger. "Prince Albert thought it wasn't shiny enough, cut is near in half by time he was done."
"And he died with it yet unfinished," the queen murmured, her eyes suspiciously soft.
The Doctor frowned, shaking his head. "Lots of unfinished business around here," he said finally.
"What?" Rose plucked at the sleeve of his jacket. "Doctor? You've got your 'I'm figuring it all out' face on, what'd you figure out?"
He grinned at her and tossed the stone back to the Imperial monarch. "Oh, lots of things, Rose!" He spun and stared at Sir Robert. "Right, your father – he knew about all this, knew about the wolf planning to trap Her Majesty."
"I – I suppose he did," Sir Robert admitted.
"And if he knew, bein' such good friends with Albie," he ignored the queen's huff of outrage. "Would've told him, would've planned for it!" He grinned and threw his arms in the air. "It's all a trap!"
"I'm aware of that!" Victoria snapped angrily. "Did you think me ignorant to the manner in which I was lured here?"
"Not for you, Your Majesty," the Doctor leaned over the table again. "For the wolf. Your husband wasn't trying to perfect the diamond, he needed an excuse to travel up here without you. To plan with Sir Robert's father, to figure out how to stop it!"
"You think it's got somethin' to do with why it won't come in here?" Rose was mirroring his pose across the desk. "Maybe it's scared?"
"Nope," he grinned. "No idea what that is. This is about the Endeavour."
"Not a telescope, Rose!" He didn't move, but something about his presence began to hum with energy. "Too many prisms, I told you. But it'd be perfect to go the other way – amplifying. We just need to find the wolf and get it to the observatory."
"I'm thinking, Rose," he stared at the pile of books.
"Really, Doctor -"
"I don't think we have to worry about step one."
He looked up, frowning at her. "What?" She wasn't looking at him; he followed her gaze to the high glass ceiling and the unearthly beast crawling across it. "Ah." There was a long pause as they stared up at it. "Right, back to plan A."
As cracks began to spread across the strained glass, the party in the library were once again running.
Rose had gained a good deal of respect for Lady Isobel. Beyond her excellent timing – rescuing the party from the wolf just as it was about to have a Rose Tyler-shaped dinner – but she was also remarkably clever.
"Mistletoe!" The Doctor beamed. "Fantastic, so that's what the carvings were about! Gotta stop discounting anything around here, all tied together."
"What carvings?" Rose was still glancing warily after the creature, chewing her bottom lip nervously.
"Library doors, both of'em," he replied. "Carvings wouldn't be enough, might've been a clue though. Must be what kept it out of the room."
Sir Robert, for his part, was simply embracing his wife. "You have to get back downstairs," he ordered, his voice shaking slightly.
"And you, you have to keep yourself safe," she murmured into his coat. He pulled away and met her eyes unflinchingly.
"Isobel, you must go."
She nodded, tilting her chin up firmly. "Yes," she stepped back and beckoned the maids she'd brought with her. "Girls, come with me! Down the back stairs; back to the kitchen – quickly!"
The small group of women dashed off, and Sir Robert allowed himself only a moment to stare after his wife before he turned back to the Doctor. "The observatory is this way," he stated, once again leading them swiftly through the house.
The echoes of the wolf stirring pressed them onward until they reached the doors. The Doctor was shaking his head already, running his fingers along the door. "No carvings, no mistletoe. Looks like the wolf is welcome in here." He turned to Sir Robert as the sound of the wolf neared. "I just need a minute to get it done, got to block up the doors!"
"I'll buy you time," Sir Robert's voice was flat and calm. The Doctor stopped, met his eyes and nodded once.
He stepped inside the observatory, leaving Sir Robert to lock it from the outside – and firmly closed his mind to any future sounds that might reach through the heavy wood. There was no time.
"Koh-I-Noor if you don't mind," he smiled grimly, reaching out his hand to the queen.
She clutched her bag close, eyes wide with fright. "For what purpose?"
"Oh, just a bit of savin' your life to do, no rush," he replied glibly.
Hesitantly she removed the diamond from her clutch and extended it toward him. He snatched it and ran across the room, summoning Rose as he went. She was set to work turning a great wheel, lifting as the Doctor pushed down the opposite side.
"Oh, great time for stargazing," Rose muttered, straining.
"Yeah, it it," the Doctor snapped back. Sir Robert's screams reached them then, and Rose hesitated, glancing over her shoulder at the doors and the shaking queen clutching at her rosary. "Rose, ignore it! We can't help him, just push!"
"I'm lifting!" She grunted. "How do we get it to work?"
"Gonna overload it with it's own wavelength energy," he informed her, just a bit smugly. "C'mon, Rose, just a bit more!"
"I know," she helped him slide the contraption the last few inches. "There!"
The door burst open and for half a moment they all froze – Queen Victoria was between the telescope and the beast, and they were both too far for even the Doctor to reach them. He hefted the diamond just once in his hand and bowled it toward the light beam.
"Down!" Victoria might not have heard the Doctor's command, but she fell, cowering, to her knees regardless. The prismatic reflection struck the beast full in the chest, slowly converting it back to the form of an unfortunate and tortured young human.
An unearthly, half-whispered request escaped the humanoid beast. "Make it brighter," it begged. "Let me go."
"No," the Doctor steadied Rose's hand even as she reached for the controls.
"No," he said again. "I will take you to my ship and then to the Shadow Proclamation. I'm not a judge and I won't be an executioner, I don't have that right. If you want to die, you can demand it of them."
The creature began to sob, but the prison of light held it steady.
"By the power invested in me by the Church and the State, I dub thee: Sir James Robert McCrimmon."
The Doctor looked as if he might well split his face in two from his smile. Ear-to-ear he grinned as Queen Victoria gently tapped each of his shoulders with a long, slim sword.
"By the power invested in me by the Church and the State, I dub thee: Dame Rose Marion Tyler."
If Rose giggled a little as the queen said her name, it could be excused for nerves. The Doctor reached over and took her hand as they returned to their feet and faced the infamous monarch.
"Thanks for that," he inclined his head toward Victoria. "That name was always meant for knighthood."
"Indeed, sir?" Her voice was tight. "To whom does it belong, Doctor?"
He chuckled, despite himself. "The books didn't lie about your brains, Ma'am."
"I imagine not," she pursed her lips. "Doctor, I have a final request to make of you."
He perked up, smiling. "Oh? Should be good," he added the last as an aside to Rose.
"Your world," her voice shook the slightest bit. "That world of demons and magic, of toying with the stars; can you keep it from us? Have you that ability?"
His face fell. "No," he answered, shortly. "No one can do that."
"Then I ask you, Sir," she took a deep breath. "Can you prepare us to fight ourselves? I will not be taken unawares again."
"I'm sorry," he did sound so. "I don't do that. I can't stay."
"I see," she nodded sharply. "Then Doctor, leave this place. You are no longer welcome here. You have done me a great service and I shall not forget it, but your world is a place of nightmares and I will not have it. May you someday remove yourself and your terrible child from this life, before you are both killed."
"Leave, Doctor, and never return." Her lips were pressed into a hard, thin line as they turned to leave. "And," they stopped, looking at her. "Dame Tyler?" Rose nodded hesitantly. "Regarding your questioning; no, I am not amused."
It did them very little service in Queen Victoria's eyes, but they did not stop laughing until long after they returned to the TARDIS.