"Oh, my God. Oh, my God. Oh, my God," Jor muttered in the absolute blackness. There were no stars, no moon, no heat to warm his world, no energy to run it. The breeze stilled as hidden fans fell silent. He swore he could feel the gravity lessen as the great engines that kept his world spinning died. Stark silence, with even the animals frozen in suspended terror.
"What have you done?" Jor whispered.
The Doctor fished in his pockets and pulled out his sonic screwdriver. He turned it on and the quiet whirring of it sounded abnormally loud in the silence. The blue tip was the only light in the world. Jor stared at it, mesmerized, his features highlighted blue, as Ashtroth's had once been cast in gold by the sacred energies of their world. The Doctor narrowed the beam and played it around. He found the Captain, fallen to one knee, head down, drained, but alive.
"How could you!" Jor ran over and slammed his fist into the older man's jaw.
The Doctor grabbed him from behind. "Leave it, Jor."
"You destroyed our world!" Jor heaved with terrified, angry breaths. Only the Doctor's cool, implacable hold kept him still. "If you weren't mad. I'd kill you." Jor spat.
The Captain looked up from his sprawl, his hand examined his jaw. The silver eyes he turned up to Jor were calm, and sad, and literally weighted with the weight of the world.
"He's not mad," the Doctor said. "Come away. Leave him for now," the Doctor said, tugging Jor away from the Captain who was sitting up and fingering his teeth.
He swung the torch around and played it over the grass, oddly colorless in the blue light, until they found the charred circle, and Ashtroth's body.
Jor fell to his knees beside his ancestor. "He looks so human," Jor said in sad surprise, looking at the pink skin and brown hair. He looked up hopelessly at the Doctor, tears glinting in his eyes. "He could be my uncle."
"He was," the Doctor said. He played the light quickly over Ashtroth's soot-edged form, then splayed it broader, over the clearing beyond. The other four men were starting to stir.
"What will we do now?" Jor asked hopelessly in the darkness.
"Something," the Doctor said definitely. "We'll do something, Jor," he said firmly, trying to give the younger man hope. "We're not dead yet."
Jor laughed, the sound bordering on hysteria.
"There's always a way if you look," the Doctor insisted.
Jor snorted listlessly.
"No," the Doctor said. He grabbed Jor's jaw and turned his head. "Look!"
A glimmer of white.
The Doctor turned off his sonic screwdriver.
Out from behind the trees they came, up from the depths of the tunnels, all across the surface of the world, some so far away above they might be stars.
Glowing angels of light.
A woman stepped out from behind a tree just beyond Ashtroth's body. She was perfectly formed, glowing with a pure white radiance. She knelt down and touched Ashtroth's shoulder gently, sadly.
"Is there anything I can do to help?" the Doctor asked softly.
She looked up at him, blue eyes visible in a moon-radiant face. "There is nothing you can do here, Doctor."
He nodded and stepped back.
Jor stared from her to the Doctor, whom he could see by her light. He didn't even object when the Captain joined them, standing in the circle of soft light.
The woman stepped over Ashtroth's body, straddling it protectively as she raised her hands above her head, palms pressed as if in prayer. She opened her mouth and sang out a long clear note. A melody with no tune, a tune with no melody, the sound swelling and echoing in the vast womb of their world, the sound picking up and answering as other notes joined in.
Each angel flared brighter as it joined the song, each unique note joining to weave a harmony the likes of which even the Doctor had never heard before.
And as the last note joined the song, the world went white.
"If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes I'd never have believed it," the Captain said, sitting at his desk, a mug of hot cof wrapped in both hands.
"I'm so sorry I didn't believe you, Klayisha." He reached forward and grasped his nieces' hands, both of them. "You too, Shadia. Once I realized what Joshia was. Once the Madness started... I knew the Engineers were real. As Captain I had to know. But all I could think was that the demons had violated you, forced you to bear their child. I should have believed you when you said Keldon was the father, but then when he..." he stopped and coughed back tears, Keldon had been like a son to him, his protégé. "When the Madness started," he rephrased, "I felt like I was the only sane man in an insane world. All I could think was that I had to stop it any way I could. Save as many as possible."
"By killing us?!" Klayisha demanded, pulling her hand from her uncle's and holding Joshia tighter to her.
"Not you. Never you. But I had to draw Shadia out; she'd gone into hiding as well."
"But you would have killed my baby," Klayisha said in deadly tones, glaring at her uncle.
His eyes fell before hers. "At the time, all I knew was that he was demon get, the cause of the Madness. I wasn't thinking of him as a person." The Captain looked at the sweet face of his great-nephew, the transparent features given color and form by the refraction of the pink blankets his mother have swaddled him in. "I know now it wouldn't have worked anyway."
"It wouldn't have worked anyway?!" Shadia quoted in disbelieving outrage. She reached over and slapped him on top of the head for his stupidity, disarranging his perfectly brushed silver hair.
He grinned, knowing he was forgiven.
"What happened in the Center anyway?" Klayisha asked. "We were busy at the communications booth when the lights went out."
"It was the most amazing thing," Jor said, plopping down in a chair beside them, leaning forward eagerly. "When the sun went out, all these Engineers started coming out of the claywork. I didn't realize there were so many. They arrayed themselves all around the Center. They linked up in a web, with harmonics, the most beautiful song you've ever heard. Apparently they're not just connected to the ship, they're also connected to us. All of us. They poured out energy, white beams meeting up at the heart. They were able to use the energy from us to restart the sun!"
He plopped his head down on the table dramatically, and shook it, still not believing what he'd seen. All those spears of white reaching out to the center, rekindling the sun.
"I've still got afterimages," he said prosaically, rubbing his eyes.
Shadia only grinned at him and ruffled his hair.
The Doctor smiled at the affectionate play and faded backward out of the room, expertly ducking around the door frame and finding his way back to the TARDIS.
As he trotted around the last corner, he saw the familiar blue shape. And ran right into an invisible, but very solid, back. "Sorry."
"No need," the disembodied voice said.
The Doctor grinned. Ashtroth deliberately glowed a brighter gold.
"I'm glad to see you're looking better," the Doctor said puckishly.
Ashtroth grinned wryly. "I'm lucky I'm not dead. If Lalia hadn't drawn the power up through me, I would be. The Captain was a surprise."
"We should have expected it," the Doctor said as he unlocked the TARDIS. "There were bound to be more than just two types of mutation. One with the ability to store and manipulate energy like you do was virtually inevitable."
"True. Although, it's the first time this has happened. The Maker only knows what mutations the next Madness will bring."
"Yes, well, at least this time you'll know how to handle it. With any luck, now the mutated victims will survive, the cycle might be broken."
"We can only hope, Doctor."
"Ah yes, hope." The Doctor dashed inside his ship, his voice echoing out the door, "An important thing, hope. Here." He stepped out holding a sphere, a fist sized glass globe with bubbles trapped inside. One of the bubbles was red.
"What is this?" Ashtroth asked, taking it.
"It's a map. Feed your energy through this and it will provide the coordinates for a habitable world. They're not plentiful out here, but they're all the more beautiful for the lack of messy neighbors. It's about three light years away. With any luck, Joshia will learn to run with a real world under his feet."
Ashtroth clutched the sphere. "Thank you, Doctor."
The Doctor shrugged as he stepped into the TARDIS. "What are friends for?"
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