A/N: Thanks to my reviewers and readers!
This is the final chapter… but the story will continue if you all want it to. Or maybe even if you don't! ;-)
I want to extend special thoughts to the folks who have stayed with me for the last month (wow, has it been that long?) -- My Reflection, ck16, Robin Moto, Basia Orci, alphaskiier, mirth513, Delphine Pryde, and I'm sure many others that haven't reviewed.
I've got a promise to keep to put out a chapter or three of another story, and then I'll be starting on the next adventure. Don't forget that I have TARDIS Parking set up under my forums for extra thoughts and proddings for additional adventures in this somewhat AU 'Verse. Feel free to post there!
It's 2517. Something in the past has prompted humanity to explode out from their home world. Could the events of 2164 be responsible? Was Earth a myth or was it real? In fleeing Earth-that-Was, humanity scattered to the stars across the galactic arm. Initial survey teams targeted likely planets and systems for habitation and not all of them ended up on the same side of the sector. Blue Sun exists on one side, separated by a patch of 'wild space' filled with exotic binary and triple star systems, from the rest of civilized space. Few ships brave the route. But luck has it that one ship is. It's a ghost run, the only contact that the two sides have. Port of Departure: Eavesdown Docks, Persephone. Mixed Sino-Anglo culture. Port of Call: Tangiers-5. Darkside. Mixed Islamic-Anglo culture. Crew complement: Four. Passengers: Forty. Living 'Cargo': Two.
So what happens when a passenger by the name of Dr. Simon Tam and his cargo get on the wrong ship? And just how is this related to the TimeWar?
Doctor Who / Firefly / Riddick X-over.
Features Doctor 9, Pre-"Rose"; Simon and River Tam, Pre-"Serenity" Firefly episode 1 and the cast of Pitch Black…
Doctor Who and the Great Eclipse
The cavern around them gives them all the safety they need. But they are not off the planet yet. While none of the bioraptors will dare brave the glowing creatures that dot the surfaces here, the adults in the group are antsy to get inside something, even if it is an odd two by two meter square, blue crate. Not that everyone is totally aware of how close safety is, at the moment. Most of them are reeling in shock of one sort or another.
Ali is distraught, sobbing without shame over the loss of his oldest brother. Hassan had died from his own stupidity, but Suleiman – his had been a loss by choice, an action taken to give others time, hadn't it? Would God accept that or would He see it as something shameful? It hurt so much, to have lost two brothers on this day. Ali was sure he was about to break into a million pieces.
Crying along with him, giving comfort as best he can is Jack. Suleiman and Hassan were not his brothers, but he'd become close to them, all three. And he'd almost led Ali into death that the Doctor had prevented. Somehow he'd hoped that the Doctor would be able to keep them all safe, to pull a miracle so that no one died. But he wasn't that powerful, no one was. In the end fate decided. Or Suleiman had made the choice, but why? Why save Johns?
Simon knows how they must feel, as he numbly holds River, who is unconscious, in his arms. The tears still leak from her eyes, a flow that seems to be without end. There's a sense of helplessness settled over him, because he can't even detect what is causing her the pain she is suffering. All he can hope for is that the Doctor can help her, as he's promised to do.
Johns can't quite get his mind around the fact that Suleiman saved his life at the cost of his own. He had intended on sending the boy and Riddick down and holding off the predators himself. To say that he's in shock would be an understatement.
Imam is hugging both Jack and Ali, fighting back his own tears. He knows Riddick tried to get the boy to come down the ladder. He tried to get the boy to come down the ladder. For whatever reason, Suleiman did this because he believed it was his time to go. Now he had to make good on the boy's sacrifice and get his brother to safety. There would be time for tears later.
Carolyn places a hand on Johns' shoulder and motions toward the blue box. Like the redhead, she's not thinking much at the moment. She is, in short, amazed to be alive.
Richard finds himself nearly supporting the Doctor. It's only a handful of feet to the door of the ship, but all the same he's hoping that the man stays awake long enough to get them inside. "Your key?" he whispers into the gent's ear. He ignores the urge to lick the lobe, or worse yet, bite. The death doesn't impact him nearly as much as it might because he remembers how happy Suleiman looked to have saved him. Although he gets the impression that he did it for River.
The Doctor lifts his head and manages a crazed smirk, tinged with agony. Then he blinks slowly and opens his hand showing that he has the key. Riddick can almost feel the Time Lord gather his strength before he steadies himself, "Right. Almost there." He can't let these people down now when they have suffered so much. It's bad enough that he misled River and lied about the eldest pilgrim. He'd tried to spare her, to deflect away the possibility in the hope that he'd be right, only in the end… Fate was a most powerful mistress, second only to Time and often the two worked in concert. And he hadn't anticipated this awful burning.
The pain in his head is enough to make his vision shrink down to just the TARDIS. The effort of putting one foot into another is the hardest thing he ever fought to do, aside from using the weapon that ended the Time War. The last time he was in this much pain she came to him. But this time the damage is all in his mind, memories of the burning flickering up and down his nerves. Of course she expects him to come to her. It becomes a matter of just forcing himself to walk the distance, one step at a time, ignoring the feeling in his body as he moves. And blocking it off from his face while not looking like he's got a mask on. Then again that's not so very different from what he has been doing since River's hands left his wrists. He knows the situation is bad when he can't clearly recall how much time has passed. But no matter, soon he'll be inside his ship and she can begin helping him fix this – this – whatever it is.
He reaches the door, immensely grateful for Riddick behind him. The key slides into the lock and the door opens. The agony ramps up like his head is going to explode before something kicks in and muffles it leaving him with the feeling like he's got a brick stuck in his forehead made of molten lead. It's all he can do to stumble inside and rest the fire of his skin against one of the coral pillars. She's there, with him, whispering how sorry she is that he's in pain. He suppresses the desire to groan. Behind him the other survivors shuffle inside, expecting cramped conditions and finding that it's anything but. He'd laugh if he didn't feel like he was burning again, only slowly. "Door, please." He makes a vague wave to the lever and is relieved to see that Simon looks back at him to confirm that it's right before doing anything. He nods. The door slides closed with a normal sounding buzz and the fire seems to bank slightly, allowing him to actually see more than a tunnel of what is around him.
Of the survivors, only Riddick and the Tam lad are looking at him with concern. Simon has his hands full, carrying his Mei-Mei. But he watches from the console with worry in his eyes. Richard actually places a light hand on the back of the Doctor's neck and stifles a twitching reflex at the heat rising off the normally cool skin. The tingles that dance over his hand are strange, but not unpleasant. The Time Lord seems to draw strength from the contact, much like he did outside.
Johns is the first to actually say anything, "Fucking -- Wow!"
"Mr. Johns," scolds Abu.
Carolyn clears her throat; "It seems --"
Rich lets his hand drift to the man's shoulder, to offer him support. "Bigger on the inside?" the Doctor cuts her off. She nods. "It is, just like what I did for Jack's pack and Simon's bag only on a larger scale. And no. I couldn't have done it for the skiff. The scale is beyond one individual's lifetime worth of work." They were totally safe inside the ship. Which was a good thing, because he needed to get River into the medical bay. He took a deep breath. "This is just the first room. If you will follow me, I'll show you where you can all get cleaned up and perhaps pick some clothes. And Simon can check you over to make sure there was nothing in that blood that might have long term consequences."
They gathered around to follow him, looking like they were in a joint dream of some kind. Thankfully he wasn't being asked to explain every little thing. Good that, because he wasn't sure at the moment if he could. Only the steady presence of Richard and Simon kept him going. Normally, if he were in this degree of discomfort, he'd just let the ship take over until his body could function again. Not an option, this time. He opened the far door, led them down a hallway, asking the TARDIS to please keep things simple for everyone, and opened the door into the main bathing area. "Showers and other facilities." Then he opened the door directly across the hall, "Wardrobe room. You'll find towels and robes inside the showers. She's pretty good at guessing sizes." He stroked the wall, "And down here, another few feet is the medical lab. Simon, bring River in here. I'll see what I've got that might help her while you get a shower."
"I'd feel better to be with you."
The Doctor didn't feel like debating with the lad and just nodded. "Well, then, the rest of you, shoo – go on, clean yourselves up so you stop dripping blue all over the floor."
Imam opened the door and ushered the boys inside, followed by Johns who was saying, "Sounds to me like a heavenly idea. I don't care how impossible it is."
Riddick looked at Fry, "You gonna be ok?"
"Yeah, sure. It's not a big deal. I'm just worried about Imam and Ali because they are on hajj, you know? Maybe I'll wait, so they don't mess up their vows."
"Go with Simon, and I'll come get you when they are done," he offers. She nods and follows the Tams and the Doctor into the next room.
It looks like a clinic, pleasantly done in soothing shades with the same walls as the hallway. Cabinets make up the bulk of the color, with the rest being the mattresses or their covers. Simon settles his sister down on one of the beds and lets his eyes wander over the room, curiosity bubbling over. "Have a look-see, lad. I'm sure she'll provide you with any goodie you might desire," the Doctor says to the doctor. Fry just stands near the door, out of the way as Dr. Tam begins taking stock of the room, settling his bag on a counter as he gets caught up in the exploration.
The Time Lord jumps right to more advanced equipment, needing to scan River quickly so that he can determine the cause of her affliction and his own. 'Thank you,' he sends up to his TARDIS, knowing that she will understand that it's for much more than just keeping Simon busy as he makes his scans. She brushes across his mind, skirting the intense ache. He's rather caught up in the scans, puzzling out the results when Richard steps into the room. Carolyn leaves to shower after Riddick tells her that Abu and the others have moved into the wardrobe room. He's wearing the tee, pants, and slip-ons the ship provided that were sitting near his towel when he dried off, and has no desire to go playing dress up. Watching the intense study that the pale hairless gent is making of the readings flashing by faster than any human could read, Rich realizes that perhaps the Doctor should be laying down too. He's far too flushed to be healthy. "Do you know what is the matter?" he finally asks.
Simon glances over at the advanced tools and is drawn like a moth to a flame. The Time Lord turns to watch the Tam scion drift over, "Yes. And I can patch it, for now. But repair is going to take a great deal of time."
"What is wrong with my sister?"
The Doctor looks at Simon, "She – feels everything. Even those things that are right at the edge of her awareness. The experiments seem to have been designed to suppress her human filtering ability of senses or emotions that she can't fully utilize. The long-term correction for this will require her acquiescence and nearly uninterrupted contact with a psychic therapist." There a pause before the Doctor rushes out the second option, "OrGeneTherapy."
"Or gene therapy?"
"Yes, but we can talk about this after she's awake."
"How long term would the other route be?" Simon corners the Doctor with narrowed eyes.
The taller man sighs, "Decades. At the minimum."
The dark-haired lad frowns and begins paging back through the scans, gradually seeming to grasp the situation from the numerous diagrams. "They opened up her skull. They cut into her brain. Over and over. Why? -- anyone would cut into a healthy brain is --? They stripped her amygdala," he finally says with quiet horror. He's so engrossed with the scans that the Doctor's pained, agonized even, expression is only seen by the fourth person in the room.
"Doc? Why don't you go get a shower now?" Riddick interrupts. Simon looks away from the data and blinks. The bronze skinned man continues, "You'll thank me, after. River ain't going anywhere." Slowly the younger man nods. He steps away from the scans and out the door. "It's not just that, is it? What are you not wanting him to see?"
"It's – complicated. The procedures done to River carry a hallmark I recognize. Barbaric in the extreme but not beyond what I expect from this particular party. However, it is impossible, or should be, with the weapon used to end – well, it does still exist, so not so foolproof I suppose." Well over half the sentence before seems spoken more to himself then to Rich. Those intense eyes catch his and the man comes to the point; "She's 'infected', for the want of a better term, by a doomsday agent."
Richard swallowed, "And you? She passed it to you, didn't she?"
The Doctor doesn't need to answer. His look is enough.
"Why would someone do that?" The bronze skinned man walks up to River's bed, eyes locked onto the Time Lord's face. He can see the harsh memories etch themselves across the man's face, aging him as only recently fought war could do. He's sure for a moment that the Doctor is going to tell him something very important and potentially quite painful. Seeking to preempt the rending emotional discharge he reaches across and takes the too warm hand in his own. "Doc? Can you fix this?"
There's an ironic snorting pained laugh; "I'm going to have to, Amadak. Or I'll lose you too."
Riddick sees a flash of jungle-like forest and orange sunlight, dappled through thick leaves, distant smoke rising in black pillars too dense to be natural fire. A woman in leather, her blue eyes distant and unseeing. Shards of fire and ice raining from the heavens too thick to see the stars through although it was night. And a hand holding an engraved golden disk. Then he blinks. He's not sure if the vision is his own or the alien's.
The Doctor has moved away, preparing some medical concoction that he divides into four parts. Two of the tubes get drops of blood drawn from River. He sets them into a different holder and then draws blood from his own arm for the third vial. No words need be spoken; somehow Richard knows the last tube is for him. He simply offers his arm and waits as the blood is drawn.
Carolyn sits in a nook off the wardrobe room, well, its part of it really, just a bit out of the way from the others. She's asked for something comforting and soft and found that the ship seemed to just know what that was. Fluffy fleece, pajama-style lounge pants with a maroon and charcoal plaid on deep navy, an mottled gray oversized sweater-robe, loafers, and a sleeveless top made of some wine colored silky fabric had answered her desire. Even with her hair damp the outfit made her feel warm and cozy. She's staring out into nothing at the moment, wondering if this is real. Not too cold nor too hot, if not for the faint twisting of her stomach trying to tell her to eat she'd almost think it was a dream.
She looked up at the blue-eyed man watching her. He was dressed in a Henley-style oatmeal colored shirt and a pair of indigo blue cargo pants that nearly matched his uniform. "Yeah. Is that what you really wanted to wear? There's got to be a thousand things here more comfortable."
"Like the corset and boa off in the corner? Or the full penguin tux with cane and tophat?" he moves over and sits next to her, " -- like a costume shop in here." He eyes over her pants, "Although, those look cushy."
Fry giggles, "Here." She hands him a pair that is just a sold blue, slightly a brighter shade than the background of her own. "Not my size, so they must be yours."
William rubs his eyes then take the pants from her. "I didn't expect to --"
"Don't, Bill." The blonde places fingers over his lips; "I think most of us thought it would be the end of our lives. Just – keep your promise; make good on your word." The hand moves to stroke his jaw, "Ok?"
He watches her get to her feet, swallows, and nods.
Rich watches the Doctor give River the shot of whatever the mix is, after checking to make sure that it won't interact with what Simon gave her. The tall pale man then removed his jacket, which was covered with blue slop, cleaned the crook of his own elbow and took his own shot without a flinch. Then the ex-ranger got his very own poke in the arm. It wasn't too bad, really. He felt fine but there was no point in arguing about it. Simon returned with supplies to clean River up, looking well scrubbed and dressed in nicely tailored clothes. The Doctor doesn't give the lad time to protest, catching his arm after he's set the sponge bathing supplies down, and sticking him with the needle. "What was that?" Simon asks as he holds a gauze over the tiny wound.
"Preventive measure, in your case. It won't harm you."
Simon fixes the alien a look that says, 'I'm a doctor,' before replying, "For what?"
"Alien 'doomsday factor', Dr. Tam. Your sister was saturated with it. Inert until interaction with certain rare energies occurs. If you must know more I'll dig up the old military intelligence files and teach you the language they are in, all right?" The Doctor is busy putting things away and ignoring the fact that he's made the lad speechless quite on purpose. "Now, I'll leave you to tend River, and get us off planet."
"Ugg, Doc?" Riddick finds both men looking at him. He smirks at the Tam lad; "Don't you think he needs a shower, Simon?"
The dark-headed young man looked their host over and nodded, "Talk about dripping blue goo everywhere. Yes. Drag him in to the showers and get him cleaned up."
With a huff, the Doctor moved out into the hall, his coat in one hand, "I can shower by myself, thank you." Or at least he can try to.
Rich grinned, "You heard the Doc. I'm going to make sure you are clean." Then he leans in and steers the man into the room, "Besides, you can barely stand upright."
They find that the TARDIS has altered the room to assist, making one of the showers a sit down type. The Time Lord manages to convince the other man that he can, in fact, get the sludge off himself. His jacket goes into a cubby in the wall that closes once the coat is inside so that the blue blood is removed from the leather without damaging it too much. The ship brings her Time Lord the outfit of faded jeans and a dark brown jumper he's requesting from his room and takes the stained one away. Riddick looks into the shower at the short hairs that have littered the bottom of it from the other man's vigorous washing. "Why is your hair falling out?"
There's a sigh, "Radiation."
"How are you functioning if you've been exposed to enough radiation to make you sick?"
The Doctor looks as Riddick, "Not human, remember? The main effects I'm suffering from are cosmetic." He retrieves his coat, turns and finds Riddick standing in front of him. "Something wrong, Richard?"
He pauses, trying to figure out the pulse of his compulsion so he can squish it. Baring that he reaches up and puts his hand on the baby smooth skin of the other man's face, making a gentle caress with his callused fingers. He's happy to find that the temperature is cool under his touch again, and he grins, "Nope, not a gorram thing wrong, Doctor. So, you gonna rescue us now?"
An echoing devil-may-care smile appeared on the Time Lord's face, "Yes. Yes, I think I am. Shall we see if the sun still exists out there past that big ol' ringed planet?"
The other survivors have sensed the change and are filling out into the hall as the two men come out of the shower. Richard and Jack look at each other, "Hey, kid. I think you can talk to me now."
"So, can you show me how to rig stuff to explode?" Jack asks
Carolyn tousles the boy's hair, "Jack!" Riddick and Johns share a look then both chuckle.
"I'm just jokin', honest."
Simon helps a drowsy but awake River into the hall too.
"This way, folks. Let's see what space looks like today." The lot of them followed the Doctor back into the control room and scatter around the pillars. Working his magic (and the fact that the TARDIS itself wants off this world, thank you very much), the Time Lord and machine move from dirt to space, just in time to see the three suns become visible over the view screen from a distance as the system moved like clockwork. And because they need it, the TARDIS erects a shield and opens the main door to let the starshine in, so the human survivors know they are safe and really alive.
Riddick looks at Imam, "Now there's something you might be interested in. That blob there," he points. Abu and Ali both look. "The bright one? That's the Helion Nebula."
"New Mecca," the dark-skinned man breathes as though it's the most beautiful thing he's ever seen.
"Think a soul can get lost there, Father?" Riddick asks.
The man turns from the sight as the door closes, "I rather think it is a place where they are found, Mr. Riddick."
"Well then," says the Doctor, "To Helion Prime, then. Early 2518, I would think? Just to avoid all those questions that are bound to arise if you all get home too early." He hits a button and the TARDIS slips into the time vortex.