PLAGUE

(A sequel to 'Big Bang', 'Terraform', and 'Evolution')

Disclaimer: Inspired by 'Doctor Who' and 'Torchwood', with a big nod to 'Stargate' and a tiny, itsy-bitsy one to 'Star Trek'. Wil belongs to me although she's got a mind of her own.

PROLOGUE

Ianto Jones tapped lightly on the office's doorframe, interrupting Captain Jack Harkness's efforts to translate some unrecognized symbols on a recently recovered alien artifact. He waited patiently for Jack to acknowledge the intrusion.

"What is it, Ianto?"

The young man's eyes darted quickly to Jack's phone and then back to his face. "The President of the United States and the Administrator of NASA are on line 2 for you."

Jack snorted. "Come on, I'm not in the mood."

"This is no joke," was the reply.

Jack leaned back and scrutinized his colleague. The sparkle that was the dead give-away to an office prank wasn't present. Instead, Ianto almost imperceptibly nodded.

"Oh God," groaned Jack. Ianto turned to leave but was interrupted.

"Wait, stay here; let's listen to this together. I'll put it up on the speakerphone."


ONE

The Doctor and Rose Tyler were running for their lives, full-blast towards the TARDIS.

They were not laughing.

Behind them, hot on their heels, was a large group of very angry humans carrying pitch forks and torches.

The Doctor was fumbling for his key, pulling it out just as his body slammed against the ship.

"Hurry up!" screamed Rose. She was groping for her key in case it was needed.

"Hurry up!" she shrieked again after a quick glance over her shoulder.

"What do you think I'm doing?" snarled The Doctor as he finally yanked open the door, grabbed Rose and shoved her through the entrance ahead of him.

He slammed the door shut and locked it just as the first of their pursuers struck the exterior of the TARDIS.

Both of them, their backs against the door, were breathing hard. Rose was almost doubled over with the effort of taking in sufficient air. Her eyes were wide with fear and she gasped: "Do you think we should get out of here?"

The banging outside the TARDIS was increasing in volume, as were the muffled shouts.

The Doctor turned to look at her.

"Bloody humans! That's the treatment I receive for trying to be helpful – the proverbial 'get out of town'!"

"Doctor, maybe you shouldn't have mocked their beliefs about the 'Great Plague'."

"I didn't 'mock' them, I respectfully disparaged them. There's a difference! And it isn't transmitted through the air. Miasma! Pah! Isaac Newton should've accepted that and concurred with me! I don't understand why he refused to agree… Fleas and rats; rats and fleas; it's as plain as the nose on his pockmarked face!" The Doctor shook his head.

"Well, maybe his stubbornness had something to do with your yawning while he was talking about his discovery of calculus."

"Talking? He was lecturing me and if there's anything I do not need it's an endless pedantry on the generalized binomial theorem!"

Rose couldn't help but smile. "He really got to you, didn't he?"

"The only human I've ever met who refused to acknowledge that I was smarter than he. 'Standing on the shoulders of giants' indeed! You just wait and see if I help him with realizing his reflecting telescope!"

Rose touched The Doctor lightly on his shoulder. "I think we're done with Sir Isaac and the seventeenth century. I kind of doubt he'll want to see you again."

He sniffed. "His loss."

Rose thought to refocus The Doctor's attention by changing the subject. "This plague, then, where did it come from?"

"Oh, no one really knows for sure. Possibly Asia or Africa. At this point we're seeing the tail-end of it. The Great Plague of London killed about a fifth of the city's population and is one of the last major outbreaks. During previous centuries the plague could kill fifty percent of a community.

"No one understood its cause or how it spread, and it spread fast; before doctors or governments had a chance to reflect upon it, the plague killed a third of Europe's population when it first appeared in the mid-fourteenth century. People died by the hundreds every day and night. Huge ditches were dug and filled with corpses, covered over with dirt, and then more ditches were dug, filled and covered. It wiped out entire families and many people thought it was the end of the world.

"It's lucky you lot survived! You could've gone the way of the dinosaurs. Imagine that! The death tolls were staggering – it killed probably 200 million people during the fourteenth century. But that's not all – the plague had tremendous social and economic effects. Depopulation affected the social order; social mobility increased and labor became scarce.

"And of course, humans being humans, it led to persecutions, religious fanaticism and other counter-productive behaviors. Do you know that because cats were seen as in league with the devil, and as many people thought the plague was a sign of God's wrath against sin, cats were killed en masse? The irony of it is that if cats had not been so exterminated they would've helped to keep the rodent populations down and thus lessened the spread of the disease."

He shook his head and looked at her.

"There's nothing that says it couldn't happen again. Even with all your medical technology and sophistication. Consider Ebola, SARS and HIV. You are not immune from future pandemics."

The noise outside the TARDIS was getting louder. They were safe of course, but it seemed to Rose they'd way overstayed their welcome.

"I want to go home."

The Doctor raised an eyebrow; waiting for more.

"After being chased out of Cambridge I feel like it'd be nice to go somewhere where we're wanted, like my mum's…"

The Doctor smiled at her, hiding his true thoughts about Jackie; Rose saw through his act in an instant.

"Aw, she's not that bad. Just let her give you a kiss and she'll leave you alone."

"Easier said than done!" The Doctor made a sour face but walked towards the console. "I could use a nice cuppa… not that we'll get one from your mother."

"Doctor, that's rude!" Rose exclaimed as the engines started up.

The Doctor smiled wickedly and cocked his head. "So's this!" he proclaimed snarkily as the TARDIS shot up off the ground and into the sky on a tremendous wave of light and noise, leaving the crowd of seventeenth century humans mortally terrified.