The Crucible

Crucible - Noun, 1. a container in which metals or other substances may be melted or subjected to very high temperatures. 2. A situation in which different elements interact to produce something new.

Previously:

"How did you survive the Time War?" asked the Doctor.

"They survived through me," replied the Dalek Emperor.

The Dalek saucers moved towards Earth and began launching missiles at the surface. Millions of people were incinerated when the bombs collided with the ground. Entire continents were submerged underwater.

"We shall create heaven on Earth!" The Dalek Emperor watched in satisfaction as his brethren invaded Earth.

The chain snapped just as the panel on the console came loose. Rose looked deep into the glowing vortex of energy, which the console contained. The heart of the TARDIS. A thin column of light streamed out of it and into her eyes. The TARDIS dematerialised and spun through the vortex. Back to the Game Station.

After using the powers of the vortex to incinerate the Dalek fleet. The Doctor took Rose in his arms and kissed her deeply. The TARDIS reabsorbed the powers of the vortex and trapped them back beneath the console. The spectacular gold-and-white light show ended. All was calm.

The Doctor carried the unconscious Rose back into the TARDIS.

Captain Jack Harkness arrived only to see the time ship leaving without him. With a look of sad resignation, he turned and left.

It was a little while later and the Doctor sat beside Rose his brow wrinkled in a frown, brooding on the situation. He had been sure that was the end. That he would die. It had been quite a shock to the system when Bad Wolf had been revealed. An amalgam of fear and doubt washed over him. He was still uneasy, not sure whether it was just a side affect of his body dealing with the absorption of the vortex or something worse, he had a sick feeling in his stomach that all wasn't well.

"I think we both need a little break," suggested The Doctor, suddenly. "Somewhere more peaceful."

"Peaceful?" replied Rose, a look of consternation on her face. "Every time you say we're going somewhere for a rest you either get bored or some big threat gets all your attention."

"Well, it will be different this time," he answered getting to his feet, and approaching a pile of what Rose termed junk. "Where do you want to go?"

He pulled out a handful of leaflets from the centre of the heap and spread them out in a fan like a magician.

"Pick a place, any place?" He grinned.

Rose smiled back.

She picked the one printed on shiny, holographic paper. Looking more closely she saw the title read 'The Museum of Ancient & Alien Life – Vanadium' underneath the title was a picture of a large silvery-white, chrome like building which looked more like a work of art than a museum.

"Good choice," said the Doctor taking the brochure from her, "They've got a special once in a lifetime exhibit on in about…oh, 70 years after Earth's death. I should be able to get us there-,"

"On time?"

"Near enough," the Doctor began to adjust the controls, taking great care in the precision of the calibration of the instruments.

Rose could see that he was trying to make an effort. She rewarded him with a smile.

"Can I help?" she asked.

"Just hope for the best."

He initiated the materialisation process.

The TARDIS dragged itself into real-time with the usual noisy fanfare.

The ship materialized on one of the parking platforms of the visitor landing bays. It settled between a sporty, sleek looking spaceship all fake chrome and go faster stripes and a non descript black saucer shaped ship with no windows. The battered old police box was dwarfed by its neighbours, yet somehow managed to hold its own. The Doctor stepped out of the doors followed by his companion. Rose was wearing her familiar baggy jeans, twinned with black t-shirt over a red long sleeved top. She glanced around mouth agape admiring the myriad of different vehicles that filled the landing area.

"Wow!" she exclaimed. "Mickey would have loved to see this. It's like gone in 60 seconds with spaceships. I bet they have cruises for these things like they do for all those suped-up cars back home."

"I wouldn't be surprised," replied the Doctor, his voice carrying across the vast concrete and steel expanse. He glanced at the brochure he still held in his hand. "I think the door to the lobby is over in that direction."

He strode off ahead, his footsteps echoing around them.

"Remember where we parked!" he called back to Rose.

She jogged to keep pace with him.

"So…." She began.

"So?"

"The parkin' its free then? You don't have to take a ticket or nothing?"

"Compliments of the museum. Fantastic! There you go," exclaimed the Doctor pointing to the large door in front of them. It slid open automatically with a faint hissing sound. "Told you the door was here."

They stepped through the door and into a magnificently impressive foyer.

In front of them was sweeping stairway with ebony and gold handrails. The floor was marble and huge columns thicker than tree trunks rose up to the vast domed ceiling with its stained glass roof.

"Cool," Rose gasped. She put her hand on the Doctors arm. "Doctor its beautiful."

"I've seen better," he replied folding his arms. "You should see the Palaces of Kaheen, now they are impressive, and yet somehow subtle in a way only human architecture can equal."

"You're always complaining," she sighed, punching him playfully. "So where's this exhibit I've heard so much about?"

The Doctor approached one of the columns. Rose noticed there was a sensor embedded in the carved stone.

"Show Map," he ordered.

A holographic 3D map appeared floating in front of the column.

"Language…Earth, English…Northern," replied the computer in, to Rose's surprise, a female voice with a Manchester accent.

"Meant to make you feel at home," explained the Doctor, as if it was nothing. "It analyses you voice and creates a imitation."

"Why has it got a woman's voice then, huh? Is there something I should know?"

He arched his eyebrows in mock surprise.

"Apparently according to galactic study 3845725294 zeta, most species are more comfortable with information coming from a female persona. Can't think why," he said with a grin.

"Doctor."

"Ok," he held his hands up in surrender. "Computer locate exhibit, crucible."

"Exhibit, 'Crucible' is in area 247," replied the computer cheerily, as if it was overjoyed to be asked such a banal question. "Do you require direct transport?"

"Yes please. Two to transport to area 247-,"

Security Officer Misch sat at his desk monitoring the system. In front of him was a wall of screens showing every part of the museum. The security system was of course entirely automatic but the insurance company insisted on a the presence of at least one sentient life form to deal with any problems the artificial intelligence was unable to cope with. Even in this day and age people were still wary of computers and were quick to put limits on their capabilities. There were about 10 people currently in the Crucible exhibition, one of their top attractions. The museum had purchased it centuries ago but had never let it got on view to the public afraid that there might be too much of a temptation to steal it. It had a kind of allurement enhanced by the stories surrounding the object and its origin. The legends said anyone who could collect the correct combination of elements together would be able to use the crucible to create new worlds, stars or even galaxies. That, thought Misch was a load of rubbish.

"Now that's how a transmat should work," said the Doctor, "Not like that poor excuse for a molecular transportation device on the gamestation. No nausea, not even a headache."

They had materialised in an ornate hallway. The walls were painted a pastel green with gilded panels set into the wall, above the ceiling was painted with exquisite depictions of scenes from historical events of various species. The brushwork, which graced those eaves, rivalled even the masters of Earths past.

"Doctor we're in a corridor," commented Rose. "I thought we were supposed to go straight to the exhibit?"

"Security," he replied. "There's tight security around the crucible there's been at least 70 attempts at pilferin' the thing."

"And-?"

"And, so there's a dispersion field for a 40 Gind radius to stop anyone transporting the crucible away."

"What's a Gind?"

"About 10 meters give or take. This way Rose," he said leading her.

They headed towards where two thick riveted copper doors stood open inviting you inside.

As they stepped over the threshold Rose felt a tingle like when you get a chill run down your spine.

"Don't worry," reassured the Doctor, as if hearing her thoughts. "Its only a scan to check for weapons."

"I knew that," she replied, biting her lip.

They appeared to be in a cloister of some kind. You could walk around the gallery which encircled the room or step though one of the three archways into the middle of the exhibition area. She advanced through one of the monastic looking archways. In the centre of the room sat The Crucible on a red velvet cushion atop a clear glass pedestal. The object itself was a large sphere about the size of a large beach ball. It was impossibly smooth with a band of copper coloured symbols she assumed was writing decorating the circumference. She approached the crucible as far as the beams that crisscrossed in front of it like a barrier would let her go. She gazed at it mesmerised hardly noticing that she let out a sigh.

"Rose-,"

She finally snapped out of her trance and realised that the Doctor was speaking to her.

"What?" she replied testily.

"I said did you notice-, oh it doesn't matter," he answered glancing suspiciously at two people who had just entered.

The two a man and a woman were dressed in plain, black non-descript clothing and to the casual observer looked human. They approached the exhibit trying to appear nonchalant. The woman gave her partner a look and suddenly everything slowed.

Rose could feel herself frozen in a translucent bubble; it was like walking through custard. In the corner of her eye she could see the two assailants moving at what seemed like normal pace. They grabbed the crucible and the man put it into a satchel slung over his shoulder.

She heard the Doctors voice.

"Rose!"

His voice was slurred like a record played at half speed. He grabbed her hand and suddenly she was able to move again but now everyone else stood still like statues.

The thieves were making their getaway. The Doctor followed them dragging her along behind him.

"Doctor," she exclaimed, "What's happening? What was that?"

"Time inversion bubble, can't explain now," he blurted as they ran down the corridor towards the transmat port. "We've got to stop them."

"Who are they?"

"Don't have a clue, but follow them-," he let out a curse as the two assailants evanesced into the ether.

"What do we do now?" asked Rose.

"We follow them," he replied as he ran the sonic screwdriver over the panel that was set into the wall in front of the transmit pad. "This should now take us wherever they went."

There was a hum and the Doctor and his companion were split into their constituent molecules, transmitted via buffers and all kinds of mechanical wizardry through space only to arrive in the parking bay.

"Doctor look!" yelled Rose pointing at where the thieves were boarding a sleek looking two seater space craft. The name 'Déjà vu' stencilled along the bow.

Two wings emerged from each side of the ship with a hiss, like the sound of hydraulics. A fine blue mist like film washed over its surface like waves over the shore. There was a building buzzing noise.

"Come on Rose," said the Doctor yanking Rose away from the ship towards the far side of the parking area where the TARDIS was housed. "We've got to get away from here."

"Why?" she asked as they approached the time machine.

He pulled her suddenly inside the TARDIS, slamming the door shut.

"It's ok now," he said adjusting some of the controls on the TARDIS console.

"I said why?" she repeated putting her hands on her hips and giving him the 'I'm not impressed' look.

"That….thing is dangerous. The way it travels through time brings havoc to everything within a 20 meter radius. Poof! Wiped out of existence."

"Ok that's the bad news, any good news?"

"They leave a temporal trail that a Blind Goralin Kreda Beast could follow. As someone once said everything's got to have a tailpipe and this one spurts out all kinds of excess events."

"Ok…I'll just pretend I understood all that should I?"

He didn't reply as he was too busy concentrating on piloting the TARDIS. The familiar wheezing, grating sound filling the room telling them both that they were in the vortex and on the move. She peered over his shoulder at the screen that gave a confusing array of readouts and data.

"Excuse me," said the Doctor, nearly colliding with his companion on his way round the central console as he attempted to hold down four buttons at once.

Suddenly Rose noticed that one of the screens had the words 'receiving confirmation signal' flashing at the bottom.

"Doctor-,"

"Not now Rose."

She sighed and looked more closely at the message. It scrolled through several letters before it came up with the final message.

He-Es-Lu-Pu-U-Sc-Db-Os-Cu-W-O-Ra

What it meant she had no idea, but she didn't have time to ponder any further on the subject as the TARDIS came to an abrupt halt. Rose was thrown off balance toppling over on to the floor. The Doctor however must have known that the ship was going to stop (he hadn't warned her she noticed) had grabbed hold of the console in time.

"Doctor," she began, getting to her feet and dusting off her hands, and wondering if the Timelord ever did any housework.

"I'll find time to clean up later," he replied as if Rose had complained out loud.

This made her pause for a moment slightly stunned.

"Are we there yet?" asked, Rose once she had regained her composure.

"Yes…look."

He flicked a switch on the console and a 3D projection appeared hovering in front of them. From what she could make out it show the ship they had been pursuing heading for a planet.

"What's so special about that," she asked. "The ships going back to a planet-,"

"No, Rose its not."

The hologram zoomed in.

She gasped.

"T-the planet it's not a planet and its moving towards the ship."

"Exactly. Something's wrong and I think we just stumbled on something we shouldn't have."

A beam of light shot out from the planet ship, engulfed the thieves' ship and pulled it in. The TARDIS drifted forwards as the Doctor attempted to assess the situation.

"What are we going to do?" asked Rose.

A large purple symbol appeared on screen.

"Uh-oh-,"

"What do you mean uh-oh?"

"Were being scanned, and the TARDIS hasn't enough power to block it completely."

Suddenly the TARDIS juddered and jolted forward.

"Can't you drive…or fly this thing properly?"

"It's not me. The ship is dragging us in."

"Stop it! Isn't there a button we can press and just disappear?"

"Don't you think I tried that," he snapped, angrily.

"Sorry," she replied, biting her lip. "So do you have a plan?"

The Doctor grinned.

"I always have a plan."

"So? Tell me."

"We are just going to sit back and let them make the first move."

"Great plan."

"You can't seriously be considering going out there?"

"Why not," replied the Doctor. "How else are we going to get the Crucible back?"

"We could just go back to before it was stolen and warn the museum," suggested Rose.

"Two reasons why that is a bad idea, the first and most important is it would be too easy."

"Too easy? You've got to be kidding?"

"Well there is the other reason-,"

"Doctor," began Rose, tapping him on the shoulder.

"What?"

"It looks like we've got company."

Outside the TARDIS totally encircling the ship were large robots. All heavily armed like compact tanks with thick armour as well as percussion and energy weapons.

"You are surrounded. You will surrender. Come out immediately!" intoned the robot, its voice harsh and tinny.

The Doctor held down a button on the console and spoke, his voice relayed outside presumably by some kind of loudspeaker system.

"Why should I? Who are you?"

"You will exit the vehicle and surrender it to us for evaluation. You will also be evaluated and your position assigned."

One of the robots, its composition different to the others rolled forward. On the end of its arm was a mechanical device. It attached onto the lock of the TARDIS door.

"Hey, hey, hey! Watch the paintwork!" exclaimed the Doctor.

He headed towards the doors.

"Wait! Doctor! You can't-," began Rose, grabbing hold of his sleeve in an attempt to slow his progress.

He shrugged her off, and flung the doors open.

"I said," he bellowed, stepping out of the safety of the TARDIS. "Mind the paintwork! You can't just go forcing an intricate lock like that you poor excuse for a calculator!"

His face fell. Two robots one each side grabbed hold of his wrists. He struggled but they held firm.

"You are now the property of The Amalgam. You will be taken for evaluation," said the robot. Its voice although monotone managed to convey a sense of smugness.

"Run Rose Run!" shouted the Doctor urgently. "Shut the door!"

On the threshold of the TARDIS, Rose didn't have to be told twice. She bolted inside and scrabbled along the console as she tried to locate the leaver she needed in the confusing array of instruments that were apparently needed to fly the TARDIS. The doors swung shut. She could see the Doctor being led away while a small contingent of robots was left behind to break into the ship. Not for the first time Rose wondered why there wasn't some kind of knockout beam of some kind lying around so she could get rid of the robots and save the Doctor. She watched as they led him away. Only two robots remained.

The Scarrion General Tebel-shey approached the Prime Commander. His master, the ultimate ruler of the Amalgam. The Prime Commander sat cast in shadow. He turned his head in what could be interpreted as disgust.

'The Scarri clan aren't the most photogenic aliens. One alien anthropologist who was lucky enough to see one and live described them thus.

The Scarrion are a biped species, with pallid grey-blue skin. They look like a cross between a dinosaur with a torso like a t-rex, sharp claws and a mane which one could describe as a Mohican style to use the Earth vernacular. They all dress in nasty looking armour which could probably frighten an enemy to death. Which is the essence of the Scarri, their bark is worse than their bite.

When I say live, I meant he survived long enough to send the above report before he found out how bad their bite really was.'

"I hope this is good news General Tebel-shey," asked the prime, his voice harsh.

"We have acquired the crucible, and some…additional workers."

"Who are they?"

"We have not yet determined that information, but we have their ship in the landing bay."

"What type of ship? Is there anything we can use from it?"

"Well," began the general, "We have data from preliminary scans which indicate time travel capabilities. But there is a small…technical hitch-,"

"I don't want excuses!" Snapped the Prime Commander, angrily. "You will do your job or be replaced. Use one of the slaves from sector Sn-Ir-Hg-Eu-Lu-O-Rb-Dy they seem to have a talent for time machines."

"Of course Commander," replied Tebel, bowing his head in a token display of humility, as he reversed out of the room, his claws scraping along the floor.

The sound was like fingernails down a blackboard. The Prime Commander winced.

Rose sat on a chair she had dragged over to the console. She stared at the screen displaying the view outside. The robots had persisted for quite a while, but had no luck in breaking in. Suddenly they moved back. A young man, with long blond straggly hair and beard dressed in a grubby jumpsuit stepped forward, a toolbox in his hand. She noticed that he had a thick silver shackle round his wrist. He put the toolbox down and took out a device that looked very similar to a sonic screwdriver. Kneeling down he set to work on the lock. The robots reversed out of the landing bay, leaving him on his own. He glanced around furtively, then after a moment's pause knocked on the TARDIS door.

"Hello? Is there anyone in there?" he whispered. His eyes darting around as if afraid the robots would return.

Rose hesitated for a second wondering whether she should answer or not. He looked petrified and he might just be able to tell her where the Doctor had been taken.

"Who are you? What do you want?" she asked.

"I'm Lord Guytrilawnie. I'm a friend, please let me in for Rassilon's sake," he replied, urgently.

"Eh?" Rose was a little confused. "I'm Rose Tyler. I-I don't think I can let you in. The Doctor said-,"

"The Doctor," his face changed into a look of dismay. "A renegade. I should have known."

She thought she herd him mutter 'but I can't be choosy'.

"So will you let me in…Rose," asked Guy. "I don't have much time. The Farrier's will return soon."

"Farriers?"

"The robots! Come on, I could pick the lock, but that takes time they would kill me…again if they caught me trying to escape."

Rose brushed over the 'killed again' phrase. "You're a prisoner?"

"Worse a slave. Now let me in….they're coming!"

Rose knew she really shouldn't let him in but her gut instinct told her that he was in trouble and it was her duty to help. She released the door lock. Guy leapt through the doors and slammed them shut behind him. He leant against the doors, and let out a sigh of relief.

"Thank, you so much," he said.

"That's ok," replied Rose. "So what's your story?"

"What do you mean?" he asked surveying the TARDIS controls.

"How did you get here?"

"The Scarrion time agent found me…floating barely alive through space. I'm a survivor, a refugee from a war. To the Agent I was just another piece of a dead civilisation to be collected and utilised. I'm a technician you see. I had been of a survey mission on the edge of the system till. Till they came and," he paused as if it were too terrible to speak of whatever disaster had propelled him into the clutches of the Scarrion.

"I'm sorry," said Rose, biting her lip and rocking on to her back foot nervously. "What planet did you come from?"

"It doesn't matter now," he replied cryptically, his eyes lowered sadly. Suddenly he seemed to switch from a melancholy state to one of hyperactivity. "Right, first things first I need to stop the Doctor before he ruins our plans."

"Our plans?"

"Oh, you didn't think I was the only one of my kind they found did you?"

The Doctor was taken by his mechanical escort of guards to a room. The walls were pure white with no windows and only one door. He was thrown inside and the door sealed shut. In fact it was so well camouflaged it would be hard to tell where it was. The Doctor glanced up. Set in the ceiling was a vicious looking metallic device, a sharp shard of crystal set in its centre.

"Welcome to the evaluation chamber," announced a female disembodied voice. "Please co-operate and you will not be harmed."

"I've heard that one before," scoffed the Doctor.

Suddenly a bright light shot out from the crystal the light engulfing the whole room including the Doctor. He let out a yell of pain.

"If you resist the mental scan you will experience some discomfort," said the voice, her tone slightly miffed.

Rose grabbed his arm as Guy began to activate the TARDIS controls.

"No! Stop! You don't know what you're doing, you could send us anywhere and the Doctor will be stranded," exclaimed Rose, urgently.

"I know what I'm doing," replied Guy, shrugging her grip off. "This may be a relic of a ship but the basics are still the same."

"How do you know-?"

"Shush," he said gently putting a finger to his lips. "Sometimes it's better not to explain. Just trust me this is all for the best."

Rose pondered what he said, and found her instantly putting trust in his words and motives in the same way she did with the Doctor. He somehow seemed genuine. She pushed her suspicions to the back of her mind and decided to concentrate on the present.

"Then shall we make a pact," she said holding out her hand, "I won't ask anymore questions about your past and you help me save the Doctor-?"

His eyes glanced at her outstretched hand; he hesitated a moment then, held out his hand and shook hers.

"It's a deal. You have my word on that," said Guy. "Now if you won't mind I've got to fly this thing."

The Commander Prime read the report, while General Tebel-shey stood to one side waiting expectantly.

"Very interesting. So he resisted the mental scan, like the others?"

"Yes, great commander," replied the General.

"I thought I told you to fix that problem?"

"It was rectified, but this one was stronger than the others we had not anticipated-,"

"Enough! I don't want more excuses. You are very close to being replaced. Tell me though how did our boy wonder get on with the ship? Did he get through the lock? Do we have some nice juicy time technology?"

"Well…" he began taking a deep breath. "He has escaped."

"What!" yelled the Prime Commander his voice filled with anger.

"We are currently searching-,"

"Three strikes general, you're out!"

"But? Please no. I can sort it out," pleaded the Scarrion.

Two Farrier's entered the room and took hold of General Tebel-shey.

"Take him away. Deal with him," said the Prime Commander.

He turned away as he heard the pleading cries of the Scarrion as it was dragged away by the robots.

The Doctor woke up in a cell. He let out a groan of pain. His head hurt like it had been hit by a train. He blinked. The room slowly came into focus. The decoration was spartan a straw palette sat on the floor in one corner and a table with a data pad resting on it. The Doctor got to his feet and picked up the data pad. It contained schematics for various devices. He wasn't sure what he was supposed to do with the information or why he had been given it. He noticed a thick metal shackle was now round his right wrist. He examined the metal device; it seemed to have no join like it had been cast round his wrist. Suddenly there was a whistling, whining sound like feedback which drove right through his head.

"Do you mind!" he exclaimed.

"You will find the necessary data on the pad. You will adapt the recently acquired technology to integrate with our systems."

"You can't keep me here," he replied shouting into the room not sure where to direct his voice.

"You will comply or suffer the consequences."

There was a low buzzing sound and then a burst of pain shot up his arm. He let out a cry and dropped to his knees grabbing hold of his right arm. His face contorted in agony. The buzzing abruptly stopped, and the Doctor sighed with relief as the pain ceased.

There was silence. The threat hovered in the air.

"I'll do what you say," he said, his tone weary.

He picked up the data pad and started work.

"Where are we going?" asked Rose.

"To the think tank. That's where they take those with technical knowledge, where I was kept. They use us to re-create and adapt the technology they scavenge."

"Isn't that a bit dangerous, giving those with knowledge technical information that could be used against them?"

"You are kept on a tight leash," he held up his right arm with the shackle on it. "The TARDIS shields the signal they won't be able to find me for now."

"So were heading for this 'think tank'?"

"Yes, we just have to find which cell." He selected several controls. "Just scanning…two hearts, that's him."

The central column slowed its pace and the TARDIS began to materialize at its destination.

The Doctor looked up from his work suddenly aware that something had changed. He felt more than heard the arrival of his ship.

"Take this," said Guy handing her a small electronic device. "Use this to open the door. It will mimic the key. He's in the cell marked D."

"Aren't you coming?"

"If I go out that door they can…reach me."

"You're not staying in here on your own! How can I be sure your not gonna' go disappearing off leaving me behind?" exclaimed Rose, grabbing hold of his arm. "You are coming with me."

"But I-,"

"I saved your life. I trusted you, let you into the TARDIS. The least you can do is help me."

He sighed and hung his head, reluctantly reaching for the door controls. They both stepped out into the corridor. The area they were in had a very industrial look to it. Steel and corrugated iron but something told Rose that this effect was all an illusion and that advanced technology was hidden behind it all.

"This is it," he said, pointing to the door on her left. "The device?"

Rose handed him the small credit card sized box of electronics that to the untrained eye looked very like an I-pod nano. There was a slot in the door he inserted the 'key'. It began to process whatever it had to do working on the lock combination, but before it was finished they heard a robot came rolling towards their position.

"Quickly, you get him out of there. I'll distract the Farrier," said Guy, running off down the corridor.

Rose was about to stop him when the lock clicked and the door swung open. She was surprised to find the Doctor resting against the wall, dressed in a similar uniform as Guy, tapping instructions into some kind of portable flat screen.

He looked up with a grin.

"About time to," said the Doctor. "I thought you were never gonna' rescue me and I was going to have to save myself."

"Doctor," replied Rose. She noticed he had the metal shackle round his wrist. "The TARDIS is outside we've got to go."

"Don't you think I know that," he snapped, getting to his feet and heading out the door. "Can I have your key?"

"Why?"

"Well you don't think I would walk outside and hand it over to them do you?"

She handed him the TARDIS key.

"So did-," Rose paused. She had heard a cry from round the corner. "Guy?!"

"Excuse me," asked the Doctor.

"Guy, he helped me find you. I think he's in trouble," she replied, preparing to go to his rescue.

The Doctor put a restraining hand on her shoulder.

"We've got to help him," she pleaded.

"It's too late Rose."

"How do you know?"

"That's how I know," he replied pointing at the Farrier which was now advancing down the corridor on of its mechanical arms stained with blood.

"No," cried Rose.

The Doctor took her by the hand and led her inside the TARDIS shutting the door behind him.

"It's not fair," she sobbed. "He was only trying to help."

"It's too late," he repeated, his voice solemn. "For him. But we still have a chance."

"How can you be so cold!?"

"Simple. People die sooner or later and if I worried about every life that was lost I'd drive myself crazy. So learn to accept it."

He began to adjust the controls.

"What idiot's been messing with my settings!" he exclaimed suddenly.

"That 'idiot' was the guy who just got killed trying to give you a chance to escape!"

The Doctor paused suddenly as if frozen; there was an odd look on his face.

"I'm sorry Rose," he said.

But it was as if he was apologising for more than just being abrupt or insensitive. It was like he was saying sorry for something much bigger.

"That's, that's ok," replied Rose, unnerved by his change in temperament.

"Now I know the shield frequencies I can get us out of here."

"But what about the crucible?"

"We can come back later for that. Things are more complicated than I first thought."

The TARDIS began to dematerialise.

"What do you mean Doctor?"

"That won't be the last time we run into the Amalgam. There are going to be other opportunities Rose. Your friend won't have given his life in vain."

"So-,"

"Let's get this shackle off. Silver really isn't my colour," said the Doctor with a grin.

The End.