Chapter 1: Voidstuff.

Author's Notes: Hiya...here 'tis, my first original whofic. Bit nervous about it actually, I hope you like it, the story's literally bursting to get out of me. A bit of Torchwood, a bit of 10Rose...just a bit of an adventure. Spoilers everywhere! I've had this loaded up on whofic - dot - com for a little while under my account there (Angeline) and thought I'd submit it here too to get some feedback - let me know what you think!


The sphere gleamed, a glowing gold beacon of silent, mute wonderment for all humankind.

Which is why Adam wondered at his colleague's sudden pallor.

"…what's the matter?"

"Don't touch it," she breathed slowly, a glimmer of wildfire in her eyes. "Promise me you won' touch it."

"I don't understand," Adam crossed his brows, looking down at his palm pilot, tapping some figures with the stylus. The Sphere was pure alien genius; it had overcome gravity, mass, detection. Why was she so worried about touching it? They could learn so much-

"- Jus' — trust me," Rose turned to Adam, her face serious. "I don't care where you found it, jus' get it out of here. Keep it quiet, yeah? Seal it away, wrap it up, and send it into the sun, as fast as you can," Rose was moving, backwards, out of Adam's lab.

"So, you do know what it is," a grin broke out on Adam's face.

"Come across one before, yeah," Rose muttered. "Adam, you're not listenin' to me. This isn't a joke, if that thing opens, there's no one to-"

"But, what is it?" if she wasn't going to explain, he wasn't going to hide the great lack of concern in his voice.

"It doesn't matter-"

"Yes it does," Adam gazed. "It's like a great Pandora's box, to me. It's my job to study these things. And yours, need I remind you?"

"You don't want to study that too closely, trust me."

"How can I even begin to understand your reasoning here, when you won't tell me what it is?" Adam protested.

---

Rose felt a headache coming on. Adam — she had to keep reminding herself, not her Adam — excelled in protesting every decision she tried to make with more questions. If only they were a military operation, she could simply order him to obey-
Rose shuddered.

"Obey! Obey!"

"Okay, maybe not," she shrugged off the sudden image of a Dalek in her face.

"Maybe not…what?" Adam hesitated. Rose wondered if he was about to offer her a cup of tea. He had that caring, but calculating look in his eyes.

Rose focussed. How to explain..."'K...you remember the Cybers, Adam?"

Adam crossed his arms, "I mustn't do. Remind me."

Before she could continue;

"Oh, wait? You mean the robots that went around chopping off people's heads and sealing them in metal?" a sarcastic glare, the caring look gone. No cup of tea then. "Of course I remember them, Rose. Are you saying the sphere is theirs?"

"What I'm sayin', if you'll let me speak, is that sphere is more a threat than the Cybers ever were. Last time I saw one of them, it...look, it's a million times worse than anything your Cybermen could have done," Rose shook her head, half-laughing. "And we're still standin' here next to it, a ticking time bomb," she turned her gaze to the sphere, a little hopelessly. "How did you get here? What are you doin' here?"

Adam moved to Rose's side, looking oddly between her and the sphere.

"Um, earth to Rose? This is Torchwood calling. It's alien, it's ours and all that," Adam raised his eyebrows.

Rose continued to stare at, and address, the sphere. "You have no idea where you are, do you? Well, let me warn you now, don't even think about openin'. Not on my watch," she turned back to Adam, shaking a little.
"Now, listen to me, for once in your life, and ge' it out of here."

Adam started to protest again, but Rose cut him off.

"No, shut it, Adam. I'm serious. You've got a million and one other fun alien gizmos to study; you can give up this one big gold ball. I want it strapped to a rocket set for the sun before tea time."

"All right, all right," Adam glared, throwing his palm pilot onto his desk.

Rose pointed at it, trying to smile, "You break that, you bought it, remember?"

Adam shook his head and rolled his eyes.

Rose hesitated. The Adam on her earth had promised not to touch anything, as well, and ended up with a hole in his head, opening with a click of the fingers.

Adam picked up his two-way and glanced up at Rose.

"Jus'...do it," she warned him, hands on hips.

Adam blinked and turned away.

"Renee, I've got a problem with the sphere."

Rose, a last glance at the inert sphere, strode from the room, resolving to page Renee and make sure she and the other rocket scientists followed up on Adam's reluctant request.

Once outside Adam's lab, she could think again. She'd forgotten that the sphere oppressed one's own soul. It had been sitting there in the void, all alone, and suddenly decided to materialise. Why? Where had it come through? Who checked it in here?

Rather than continuing to chew over the possibilities, Rose visited the dispatch department on B5 — that was, basement five.

----------

The basement - though, perhaps warehouse would have been a more appropriate word - was about half full of oddly shaped crates and shipping containers. Since Torchwood's reestablishment, almost 2 long years ago, they'd collected quite a bit of alien junk. Well, most of it was junk.
Rose rounded on the dispatch manager with a smile.

"Hullo Alun!" she called merrily.

Alun, in his forties with a set of mutton chops, cast a grin at Rose and then shrugged. "Whatever it is, I didn't do it Miss Tyler!"

"Ah, I'll bet you didn't," Rose rolled her eyes. Miss Tyler indeed. "Look, a big gold sphere was checked in here in the last couple of days, did you happen to see it? Maybe remember who brough' it in?"

"Big gold sphere? How big?" Alun started climbing down out of the forklift he'd been sitting in.

"Oh, say, yay-big?" Rose stretched her arms as wise as she could. "Maybe bigger? C'mon, not many big gold spheres come through here, not like this," she couldn't help raising her voice a little. This wasn't a game, and a desperation in her voice was breaking through. It was taking an alarming amount of control to keep her voice in a conversational tone.

Alun raised his eye brows, "Think you know everythin', don't you, Missy Tyler."

"But, you remember it?" she pressed.

"Of course I don't remember it, I ain't paid to remember every sodding piece of space junk that comes in," he waved his hand in the direction of the half-filled vastness beyond them.

Rose tried not to roll her eyes. "But you're paid to write it all down," she tried not to snap. "I'll go to the record rooms myself, sorry to bother you," she pursed her lips, turning on her heel and marching towards the administration box in the corner of the warehouse.

"Last time I ask that grumpy old sod for help, got mood swings like he has menopause..." Rose muttered to herself.

----------

Rose weaved through the cluttered administration room, seating herself at one of the six incoming goods terminals. Small displays, displaying live camera feeds of each warehouse door, showed mixes scenes of complacency in some, and order in others.

Turning her attention to the terminal, Rose queried the incoming goods database for records from the past three days.

5236 entries found. Would you like to narrow your search?

"Jus' a tad," Rose muttered to herself again.
5236 incoming goods in the past 3 days?! They were getting popular all of a sudden.
She refined it to anything logged into basement five.

1409 entries found. Would you like to narrow your search?

"Goddamnit, where's Mickey when I need him," Rose hit the screen. Mickey never had any trouble getting the Torchwood databases to bend over backwards for him. But he was onsite somewhere, out of range, as usual.

She refined it to search for the same, with a description of "sphere". This time, the terminal reported a thankful 38 entries found.

"That's more like it," she grinned, clicking on the first entry.

She blinked as the photo loaded. A small metal ruler had been set next to it to give some reference of scale to whoever bothered to read the entry. There it was! The same sphere that had been in Adam's lab.

Scanning, she saw that its arrival had been logged twelve hours ago, and it had been found close to Swansea by the gamma salvage team.

Swansea?! What the hell was Torchwood London doing in Swansea?

Clicking back, Rose noticed the sphere hadn't been the only goods logged on gamma's Swansea salvage.
"What else did you find?" she wondered, clicking the second record.

The photo loaded, and Rose's eyes widened. Another sphere? Must be a mistake, she'd clicked number 1 again, for sure.

Back. She clicked entry 3. Another Sphere. Back — clicked entry 4 — sphere! Back — entry 5 — sphere!

"How many are there?" she stood, yelling at the screen.

"I'd say, thirty-eight, by the looks?"

Rose spun around and came face to face with Renee, head of rocket science.

Renee's lips were pursed, in either disapproval or amusement, it was hard to tell. She nodded to the screen. "Thirty-eight of 'em, and no one, but yourself, has the slightest idea what they are."

"Renee, thank god. Did Adam-"

"Oh, yes. Adam's told us you've ordered the sphere in his office be sent into the far reaches of space or something equally dramatic-"

"Not into space, into the sun, it has to be destroyed, not set free-"

"Yes, yes, the sun," Renee waved her hand dismissively.

"And the rest of them," Rose pointed to the screen. "Same goes for them too."

"I gathered as much, but Rose-" Renee started.

"Good," Rose sighed. "When do they leave?"

Renee gave Rose an imploring look. "Please, tell me why we're doing this. You've the authority, sure, but it doesn't make any sense to send these discoveries away, Rose. You're usually all over this stuff. Why this find?"

Rose closed her eyes. "Because usually, this stuff doesn't include Daleks."

"What on earth's a dalek? Is that what they're called?" she nodded to the photo on the screen.

Rose shook her head. They just had to trust her. They'd had no trouble the past two years trusting her knowledge (and sometimes complete bollocks) of alien tech.

Rose started getting angry. "Fine. No. The sphere is a void spaceship. It has been sitting in hell for god-knows how long, and somehow got through to earth, falling onto a grey beach in Swansea for gamma team to dig up."

"It's a ship?" Renee's eyes lit up, ignoring Rose's concern, her anger. "We've got thirty-eight weightless, undetectable spaceships and you want me to send them into the sun?"

"Will you listen to me!?" Rose yelled. "It's not the spaceships; it's what's inside them that we need to fear. You can't even begin to imagine the death we could spread if jus' one of those ships opens up. Do as I say, or we all die. There's no Doctor or time vortex or, or -" she searched those memories - "or 3D glasses to help us this side."

Renee looked like she was about to either cry, or scream.
"Please," Rose implored. "Renee, this has got to be done."

"This is ridiculous. Even if something should go wrong, the labs are all fully contained-"

"Please, understand - I've been through this before," Rose stressed. "This isn't me, creating a drama; this is me, doing my job, defending the Earth. You must believe me. This is a threat."

Renee pursed her lips and turned away, striding out of the room. She looked back over her shoulder reluctantly.

"I'll schedule it. They'll be roasting by six AM, our time. But you're doing the explaining to Jon."

----------

Rose watched the rocket launch that evening. There was a moment of hesitation; these weren't the only remnants of that old life that had turned up in those two, slow years, but they were the closest to home-to her last moments and memories of home. Another painful reminder that somewhere else, he was still out there, travelling, parallel, and unreachable. Forever.

"Never say never ever," Rose whispered to herself, watching the rocket shoot into the sky from the observation deck, leaving a silver trail of smoke in its wake, all thirty-eight of the void ships on board.
He'd told her that once; never say never ever. It felt like a dream now, to Rose, but out of everything they'd been through, those four words were those Rose cherished and clung to.
Never say never ever. He'd meant it as a warning, when he'd said it. But Rose took it in her own context, like a mantra, one that suited the Doctor's attitude on life, which she'd tried to accept for her own.
Never lose hope.

"Will I ever see you again?"
"…You can't."

Rose could feel the black looks of her colleagues boring into her back. They were furious, confused, scandalised, about Rose's orders to have the void ships destroyed. Rose kept her eyes on the rocket, the voice of her conscience the only reassurance that she was doing the right thing, that she'd had to act, because he wasn't here to save them if they woke up.
She laughed to herself. He didn't exist here. Time Lords had no parallels. That's why they used to be able to travel to the parallel universes all they wanted to, she'd reasoned. No doubles, triples, quadruples or whatever to inadvertently bump into.

Not that Rose had a double in this universe, unless you counted the bloody dog.

The rocket disappeared. Rose's eyes shifted to her left, to the monitor following the rocket's path. They were still headed for the sun.

There was some more muttering behind her. Rose distinctly heard Adam's voice amongst the rabble say "definitely looks tired".

She shook her head and turned away from the monitor. The cameras would only stay on it until it left the atmosphere, and then she'd have to follow it on B.L.I.P, one of the sentinel spy satellites. And even then, it'd just appear as a little green blip.

She could follow B.L.I.P from home, though.

Her eyes downcast, Rose strode through the wave of onlooking Torchwood employees ignoring their glares, begging her eyes to hold onto the wave of tears she could feel welling in the corners. Not again, Rose. Not today.

----------

The bitter winter chill bit her cheeks as she stepped outside, and Rose sighed shakily, closing her eyes a moment. That was...too...close.

Her mobile rang; Rose startled, touched her earpiece with shaking fingers, and cleared her throat in an attempt to focus.

"This is Rose," she announced.

"Rose, it's Jon."

Shit.

"Am I in trouble?" Rose forced a smile, trying to lighten the air (just in case she actually was in trouble) and started walking to the bus stop, lowering her voice. Jon was her kind-of-sort-of boss, and best mates with her dad. "What's the problem?"

"I'm not going to say a word about the 38 spheres, nor the cost of the rocket that was just launched-"

"Well, I believe you jus' did say a word about it, and before you say any more, it had to be done or we'd have-"

"Just hear me out," Jon cut in. "The situation wasn't exactly handled...all that resourcefully, there was a complete lack of benchmark Torchwood protocol and you've created a stack of paperwork for yourself justifying the threat detection -- but you can make it all up to me. I'll even get Adam to field your paperwork while you're onsite."

"Oh, he's gonna love that, what about- oh god," Rose stopped walking, realising. Closing her eyes. "Onsite? You're sending me on a field assignment."

"Don't give me that tone, young one," Jon said in a voice that reminded Rose of her father. Well, of the Pete she'd come to know. "You're getting far too comfortable throwing your weight around in your cushy office and pressed suits. It's time you did some real work, might make you more hesitant to send alien finds into the sun if you've spent weeks digging them up."

"You said you were going to let it go-!"

"That was me, letting it go," Jon cut in again.

Rose sighed as she rounded a corner to wait at the bus stop. "Where am I going?"

"That's the spirit," Jon jibed. "You're on a train to Cardiff tomorrow; Reul will call you in half an hour with travel times. Meet up with Torchwood Three and report back to me what exactly is going on with this bloody rift of theirs. Weird stuff in Swansea — well, they should have been taking care of it, but they've obviously got something more important on. Their reports are getting thinner and sketchier by the day. You'd almost think they didn't want to talk to us."

Rose huffed. Wales, in the morning. Well, why the hell not, even if she indulged the notion that she had a choice in the matter? At least this would get her out of the office and away from Adam and his scathing remarks about the void ships for a couple of days.

"Aye aye, captain," Rose tried to lighten the air.

This honestly felt like one of those awkward punishments that bosses skirted around, assigning a task for the benefit of the other employees.

"That's my girl," Jon replied. Rose could hear his smile follow his voice down the phone line. "See you in a couple of days, then."

Rose just smiled to herself, said her goodbyes, and finished the call.