This alternative season 10 is a collaboration that has been in the works for about two years now and I am so excited to finally work properly on this one. My friend and I have split the 12 "episodes" of this season and we will write our respective parts. However, our companion Ruby is someone we came up with together long before Pearl was announced while we were listing all the things we would want for the new addition to the TARDIS and we ended up loving her so much that we thought it would be a waste not to write about her. Some of the plots, including this first "episode", were drafted even before season 9 aired, so it's been a very long process and I'm really, really excited to finally share it with you. I hope you will enjoy the adventures of the Twelfth Doctor and Ruby :)
Episode One: Time Clash
With Jack the Ripper on the loose in the streets of modern London and more and more historical figures emerging from out of nowhere, the Doctor has to accept the help of a young girl named Ruby to prevent the world from sinking into chaos. Yet when he is faced with a temptation almost too great to resist it is up to Ruby to prove her worth. Set immediately after Hell Bent. Alternative S10. Part 1/12.
"It was completely unjustified!" Ruby yelled at her flatmate in defence, who only eyed her with suspicion from her spot on the couch as Ruby continued to pace the carpet in front of her. As if her day hadn't been bad enough, now Sarah was dead set on giving her a hard time as well when she could really do with some kind of support.
"Unjustified or not - how are you gonna pay the rent without a job, sweetheart?" her friend wanted to know, "If you can't pay the rent, I'll have to find someone else for your room. You know very well I can't do it on my own."
"Sarah," she tried to argue, but looking at her friend she was only met with raised eyebrows. It was no use, simply no use at all.
"Fine," Ruby spat in anger, "Good luck finding someone who is willing to put up with you and this lousy apartment!"
Without further announcement Ruby rushed into her own room and slammed the door shut. It wasn't her first time losing a job, but the first time losing a job she had truly cared about, and now her so called friend only continued to make her feel bad about it. Yes, maybe she had overreacted, maybe she shouldn't have pushed her colleague into the polar bear cage, but the way he had been treating the animals had bugged her for a long time. That guy simply had had it coming. Luckily nothing bad had happened to him, except for a few scratches and a pair of underpants in need of changing. Still her boss had found it was enough of a reason for her immediate dismissal. Once more Ruby found herself out of of a job and, as it seemed, out of luck as well. She needed to do something about that.
Angrily Ruby grabbed the first bag that she could find, stuffed a couple of her clothes inside and put her purse on top of them before zipping the bag shut. Running away seemed as good a solution as any since her flatmate wanted to get rid of her anyway. Ruby was determined to leave before she got kicked out. One defeat was more than enough for a day.
"Hey, what are you doing?!"
"I'm leaving," Ruby said simply and marched past her friend. She didn't know where she was going to go, only that she needed to get out of here. A fire was raging inside her, moving her legs before Ruby's brain even had the chance to keep up. It was the same fire that had made her leave her home three years ago and so far she hadn't regretted that impulse. Ruby seemed confident she wouldn't regret this move either.
"Where will you stay?" Sarah asked her, her voice now more worried than angry or reproachful.
"I'll find something," she replied, her hand already on the door handle, "I'll pick up the rest later."
The autumn air was cool around her nose and Ruby took a deep breath, instantly feeling a lot calmer than she had just a minute ago. Yes, it was time for another change, another move, Ruby could feel it in her restless bones. She just wasn't made for this sort of life, she wasn't made to sit still in the same place, working the same job for months on end. No, that wasn't her.
Edinburgh was supposed to be nice. Maybe she would go there next. Or Dublin. Or somewhere on the continent. Or Asia. Ruby vaguely remembered reading something about an organisation in need of volunteers to save the Red Pandas. Maybe she should join them? But first she needed a place to crash, at least for one night until she had made up her mind. She could ask Benny. No, she had had a fight with him last week and ended their relationship and he was probably asleep already. He wouldn't appreciate her call. Loreena? Yes, Loreena was a safe bet.
Ruby turned around the right corner, pulling her jacket a little tighter around her body to shield herself against the drizzle and walked through the dark streets, rarely ever passing someone else. This part of London was too quiet for Ruby's taste anyway, she needed something more alive and buzzing. She needed a new adventure.
Ruby turned around when she heard the deep, gravelly voice and instantly found the source of it. There was no one around but herself and the grey haired stranger leaning against an old police box. The man wore an odd expression on his face that made the lines on his forehead appear deeper than they probably were.
"What?" she asked back, giving a slight shrug. He was a Scotsman. Maybe she could ask him if Edinburgh was as nice as they all said.
"Do you know what time it is?" the man wanted to know, granting her a short, light smile. He seemed almost nice with that hint of a smile, despite his rather stark appearance and the strict looking velvet coat and crisp white shirt.
Ruby pushed the sleeve of her jacket up to glance at her watch, only to realize that the arms were going haywire around the face. It must have run low on batteries. She looked back up at the stranger.
"Sorry, my watch's going crazy. Probably the batteries."
Ruby turned back around and had already resumed walking when she heard the stranger mutter "Yeah. Probably," in a mysterious, no, thoughtful tone.
She decided to shrug off the odd encounter even though the way he spoke and dressed made the little hairs on the back of her neck stand up. Something about him just rubbed her the wrong way and yet she couldn't quite put her finger on it. Was it the velvet coat? The strange tone in his voice? That messy bunch of hair on his head that seemed not quite of this world? There was something that she was missing, something absolutely not right at all. Then she suddenly stopped.
"That police box wasn't there yester-," Ruby said in turning, but once her eyes were back on the blue box, the stranger was gone and the street was utterly deserted. She couldn't even hear footsteps from any direction in which he might have gone.
She couldn't quite say what drove her to walk back to the police box, but a few moments later Ruby found herself circling it in curiosity. It was a police box, just an old, fairly boring police box, though it seemed to be in an immaculate condition for something so old. Ruby had seen a few of those in her life, but she had never actually taken the time to view one from up close. It was made out of wood, painted blue, and had clean stained glass windows on all four sides. Whoever had put it here, they must have taken good care of it before dumping it here.
And it definitely hadn't been there the day before because when Ruby looked down there was a flyer stuck halfway underneath it that still looked quite new. Ruby bent down to pull it free and under the flickering light of the street lamp she found that it was almost completely dry as if the police box had been put up before it had started to rain a couple of hours ago. But that couldn't be. These things weren't in use anymore and Ruby couldn't think of any reason someone might set up a new one. Was it a prank?
Crumbling the flyer in her hand and throwing it into the nearest bin, she walked away, determined to leave the strange box behind. She felt a little annoyed that the street lights continued to flicker around her as she continued her path, but decided that she wouldn't care. Loreena's place, that was where she should be headed, not in circles around another curiosity of London. As for the man, judging by his weird outfit, he was probably an actor from the small theatre nearby out for a smoking break. Yes, that was probably it. Nothing wrong. Nothing mysterious. Just good, old, crazy London. But how did that police box get there?
Her thoughts about the strange box were abruptly cut short when Ruby turned around a corner and had to clap her hand over her own mouth to refrain from screaming out in horror as her eyes fell on the figure in front of her, crouched over a young woman's body. It took her a long moment, too long, to realize what was happening and by the time Ruby had noticed the blood on the street it was already too late and the man, in return, had noticed her as well. The scalpel slid from his hand as he rose up to tower over her. In horror she noticed the frock coat and top hat and all of a sudden the blood seemed to freeze in her veins as she was beginning to understand what was happening.
Ruby swallowed hard and her eyes fell back on the red haired woman lying lifelessly on the ground. Between the instinct to run and her natural curiosity she couldn't help but think that the whole incident seemed strangely familiar while the man slowly stepped closer. He was only a terrifyingly short distance away from her when the sense of danger kicked back in.
She laughed nervously at him. "Jack the Ripper, right?" she asked breathlessly, taking a step back when she realized just what this situation had reminded her of, "You must be an actor, too, rehearsing a play? Right? Just tell me I'm right."
He was now no more than an arm's length away from her and Ruby knew that she should run, find help, scream, anything, but something held her back. Her feet were glued to the spot. Even though he was menacingly close and it looked like he had indeed murdered the woman, she refused to believe that the man in the top hat was actually Jack the Ripper from the history books. There had to be an explanation. Hopefully a harmless one that would make her laugh about the fright he had given her in a few days.
"No one," the man said, threatening her with the tone in his voice alone while his hand reached into the pocket of his jacket, "Has ever caught me before."
"I won't tell if you don't," Ruby said and she didn't wait around to see what he was pulling out of his pocket when she broke out into a run, turning back to where she had come from, fleeing in the direction of the strange police box. If that man from earlier wasn't an actor, maybe he was with the police and he could help her – she just needed to find him again.
Ruby didn't even know if Jack the Ripper (it seemed ridiculous to call him that even in her head) was following her or not but she kept running at full speed until her lungs were beginning to sting. She was too afraid to turn around and she couldn't hear his footsteps over the sound of blood rushing through her ears, there was no way of telling whether she had managed to give him the slip. The muscles in her legs were burning and she was panting mercilessly by the the time she had reached the very last corner that separated her from the spot where she had seen the police box. Just one more corner. Then Ruby suddenly felt her body collide with something or someone.