"Rose! Rose, wake up! You've got to see what's on the news!"
Rose Tyler opened her eyes to see her mum standing above her. "Why? What's on the news?" The sitting room was lit only by the glow of the television. Rose leaned forwards to see better.
"Breaking news," the reporter was saying. "There's something strange about the newest patient at the -- hospital. Is he a mutant? An alien? Whatever he is, he's certainly not a normal human."
All the color drained from Rose's face. The colors on the screen flashed across her features, giving her an eerie, ghostlike quality in the darkness of the flat. Her hand curled around something that was not there, and her eyes widened to reflect the scene before her.
"Late this evening, a man was found lying on the street," the reporter continued. Rose shook her head impatiently. It has been raining all that evening, and by late evening it had been a downpour. "He was out cold and barely," the reporter said, plowing relentlessly on with her story. "Naturally, he was brought to the hospital. He had no identification, no records. No one remembered ever having seen him before. He has, to our knowledge, still not woken up."
Rose swallowed hard. Her teeth showed over her lower lip, and she wound a strand of her hair around her fingers.
"The doctors couldn't find anything obvious that could have caused his condition. They did an x-ray to try and find out what had happened to him."
"No," Rose whispered. Behind her, Jackie's eyes widened.
"Now, the x-rays have come in. For the most part, they are normal, and show that he ought to be a perfectly average, healthy human being. But one section in particular has raised the curiosity of experts in many fields, as well as the question: Is this man a freak of nature, or an extraterrestrial? The x-ray shows..."
"Oh, God, no, don't tell all of London," whispered Jackie. "Anyone could be listening."
"...two hearts," finished the reporter.
"And if some other, less benevolent aliens had intercepted that signal," said Rose softly, her hands clenched into fists. "Vulnerability. This is the opportunity every single enemy of humankind has been waiting for. Any wicked, awful, cruel, malevolent alien out there has wanted this to happen for centuries."
"Eight or nine of them," Jackie added. "Barely breathing and out cold..."
"Shh, Mum," said Rose. The television was now showing a different reporter, inside the hospital.
"The new patient's bizarre cardiac system isn't the only strange thing about him," the reporter was saying.
"It's not bizarre," muttered Rose.
"There's even more than the fact that he seems to be in perfect condition, physically. Perhaps the strangest mystery is his mental condition."
Rose leaned forward in her seat, toying with her hair again.
"The man seems to be in some sort of coma," said the woman on the screen.
Rose bit her lip.
"However, his brain isn't inactive at all. That's not the strange part, though. The strange part is that in all scans, there is a repetition of brain activity. When brain scans were coupled with physical scans, it was found the the strange man also had the same physical reaction at the same point every time the brain activity cycle repeated."
"Physical reaction?" asked Jackie. "What's that supposed to mean? That isn't very detailed."
"This steady cycle can't be just a coincidence," the reporter said. "But the question is still open: What is he thinking?"
"And there you have it, the two headlines that'll appear on the front page of every newspaper in the city," said Jackie. "Mutant or alien? What is he thinking?" She turned the television off. "That's disgusting. It's like he's not even a living thing. No one deserves that, not even—that is—I didn't—"
Rose shook her head. "We've got to do something. Soon everyone'll be after him, every enemy he's ever had. Daleks, Cybermen, the Sycorax. There might be a war, one over which aliens get to take over the world, with humans caught right in the middle. People dying, left, right and center. Imagine it, Mum—the impossible opportunity, the golden moment that every evildoer in the universe will jump at. Imagine what could happen. With the Doctor out of commission, the world—the whole universe!—is up for grabs. What nasty, power-hungry alien isn't going to want that?"
"Oh, God," said Jackie weakly, stepping back and collapsing into a chair. "Oh, God, no."
"And since the Doctor's here, London will be the center of everything," Rose said. "Cybermen marching through the streets, made out of people we used to know. Mickey could be one. I could be one. Everyone's free game. Everyone with A+ blood type raiding anywhere there might be a weapon, killing everything in sight, nder control of the Sycorax. Humans that the Daleks got to firing lasers at everyone who's not one of them. Empty children wandering around, making everyone they could into one of them."
Jackie stared at her daughter, eyes wide in fear.
"Anyone who didn't get controlled or transformed would be massacred in the crossfire between ten or more species of aliens. It'd be the Time War all over again, but with five times as many sides fighting," Rose continued. "It wouldn't just be a few planets—the entire universe would be at war. And in the end, one race would win over all the others, and half the universe would be destroyed in the process."
"Doomsday for everything that's ever existed," whispered Jackie. "Past and present and future, all destroyed, until the whole universe is trapped in time, ruled by a single race. And it wouldn't be humans."
"That's what we're up against," said Rose. "That's what we're facing if we don't help the Doctor."
"Well," said Jackie, sitting up straighter. "If that's what he's preventing, then regardless of how much trust—or lack thereof—I have in him, I'm bloody well helping him."