A/N- WHOA, it's been a long time with this one, hasn't it! Yes, my Jennyfic update is almost done. I just have to edit the chapter, and now that the holidays are over with, that should happen fairly quickly. For the meantime, though, I've been introducing my mother to the miracle that is DW, and I just got her through JE today (and she hates Rose as much as I do! I'm so proud...), and I just had to come back and write the next chapter of this. Jenny's just going to have to sit around in prison for another day or so...
"When I thought that I fought this war alone,
You were there by my side on the frontline,
And we fought to believe the impossible.
When I thought that I fought this war alone,
We were one with our destinies entwined..."
-Poets of the Fall
"Doctor!" Donna screamed, as the TARDIS' tumbling fall slowed gradually, as if it were now sinking through something viscous and heavy. Heat filled the ship's interior, and flames consumed the console. "Doctor, don't leave-!" She broke off very suddenly as the swelling sound of a heartbeat filled her head, pressing heavily on her eardrums. Her eyes were drawn like a lodestone to the severed hand, boiling away excitedly in its container. Slowly, she reached out to it, unable to deny the call that was ringing in her head, her fingers shaking as she stretched toward the jar...
Fingers clamped down hard on her wrist. "Don't touch that!" Romana said sharply. "A living biomatrix interacting with that much latent regeneration energy could spark off any number of unpleasant things. Metacrises, instantaneous neural implosions, biokinetic storms... you never know what you'll end up with, and almost all of the options would kill you in seconds."
The heartbeat in her ears fell silent. Donna looked up into the gray-green eyes of the Time Lady. "Got it. Don't touch the hand."
Romana nodded, and grasped the edge of the console, both to stabilize herself against the rocking of the screaming time ship and to help her straighten up in order to reach the controls. She scanned the wide array of switches, buttons and oddities that appeared to have been wired in helter-skelter. "Ugh, he's rearranged your controls, hasn't he, girl?" she murmured in an irritated, ever-so-slightly desperate tone. "And is that a typewriter? Ooh, he's been treating you just awfully, you poor thing... Some things never change, I suppose..."
The ship lurched wildly, bucking about as she tried to shake off the boiling heat surrounding them as her walls began to cave inward from the inferno outside. Romana clung to the console as her feet slipped out from beneath her, but Donna was thrown across the room with a shout.
Romana hissed through her teeth and slammed her hand down on the dematerialization switch. The TARDIS groaned and limped gratefully into the Vortex. As the violent shaking and the explosions of flames around the room died down, Romana stood up properly and began dashing around the console, flipping switches and turning a hand crank as swiftly as she could. The cracks in the walls sealed themselves as the equilibrium was restored, and the port-hole discs around the walls repaired themselves, new exo-glass pouring out of the walls and solidifying in seconds.
"We must have been deposited into the core of the Crucible. Zed neutrino energy, by the smell." The Time Lady patted one of the struts fondly. "There you are, old girl. That's better." She turned her fair head to Donna. "Are you alright?" she asked.
Donna was grasping the railing, trying to stand, but fell back with a whimper of pain. "I think... I think my leg's broken," she said, face white.
Romana nibbled her lip worriedly, glancing a little desperately around the console room. Spying some of the Doctor's retrofitted Earth technology, she seized a 31st century diagnostic device and knelt down next to Donna, quickly scanning her leg, which was indeed twisted at a funny angle. When she had finished, her concerned sigh puffed her cheeks out.
"What is it?"
"Your femur is fractured," she said. "Just a hairline crack, but extremely painful, and I don't have time to fix you up if we're going to help the Doctor..."
She ran a hand through her hair in frustration, rocking back on her heels. Donna was reminded forcibly of a gesture the Doctor made often when he found himself in an impossible situation. She forced a smile around the tears of pain that were gathering in the corners of her eyes and repeated the sentiment she had expressed on several of those occasions. "Don't worry about me," she told the distressed Time Lady. "I can handle this-" She waved at the place which was already swelling and turning a disturbing shade of burgundy, "-for a little while longer."
Romana didn't speak, but her eyes expressed gratitude and respect.
"Come on then, what are we going to do?"
"First, we need to find out what the Daleks are-"
A blue light on the console flashed, and the TARDIS raised a loud klaxon wail. Romana pressed her hand against Donna's reassuringly, then got to her feet and jumped up to check the scanner. She studied the image displayed, and the readings that were scrolling across the bottom in Gallifreyan characters, for several minutes, eyes narrowing as she did some calculations in her head. "But if the planets are acting as a transmitter..." she said slowly as the realization set in. "Oh, but they can't! And sitting right on top of the biggest time-space Rift in this universe... They can't!" Her voice rose to a shout and she slammed her hand against the side of the screen in a fury.
"What is it?" Donna asked. "What are they doing?"
"Th-they're using the zed neutrino energy from the core of the Crucible and-and flattening it into a stream, with the planets as a transmitter to... oh god, if these readings are correct, they're going to dissolve all the matter in the universe!" Romana said, eyes wide with horror. "But they can't, they just can't! That's monstrous!"
Donna clasped a hand over her mouth.
Romana turned at last to face the human woman on the floor, and her posture was rigid, her gray eyes blazing and her chin held high. "This is not going to happen," she said firmly. "I have just lost my people and my world. I will not lose my universe in the same day. I will not."
"How do we stop it?"
The Time Lady hesitated, eyes darting around the room as she searched for inspiration. Her gaze fell suddenly on the abandoned staser on the floor. "Oh..." she breathed out, a hint of a smile pulling at the right corner of her mouth. "Oh, it just might work."
"What might work?"
"A biological inversion catalyzer," Romana said impatiently. "Daleks share an almost perfectly identical genetic code. There's only 0.00001% difference between individuals. Now, stasers use zed neutrino energy, like the kind the Daleks are using in their weapon. If we can convert the staser and use it to lock onto the Dalek genetic code, this... well, this reality bomb, I guess you'd call it, would backfire. It would only affect things with a genetic code identical to that of a Dalek..."
"How do we do that? Lock on, I mean?" Donna asked.
"We have to use the staser to fire an energy matrix onto one of the Daleks. Ideally, the supreme Dalek, but any one would do."
A gaping flaw presented itself to Donna. "And how the hell do we do that? I mean, they've got those metal shells..."
Romana's tiny smile broadened a little. "At close range- say, five feet or so- the staser blast would be powerful enough to rip apart the shell..." And then the problem that Donna had already seen occurred to her. "Oh. Oh. How can we possibly get close enough...?"
"Exactly. They'd shoot us on the spot," Donna said.
Romana was silent for a moment. Then, slowly, she said, "Donna... I think we have to fix the chameleon circuit."
And then she was in motion, hurtling across the space between them. She pulled Donna's arm around her shoulder and helping her to her feet, doing her best to ignore the involuntary mewls of pain Donna made as her injured leg was jostled. "Come on, Donna Noble. I'll need your help if we have any hope of getting this done in time," she said, helping the redhead onto the jumpseat. "I need you to rig up the staser."
"Me? I can't even fix a plug!"
Romana shook her head. "The TARDIS will help you. Here-" She turned away and input some data on the little numeral pad beneath the scanner screen, "-this will give you all the information you need. Just do as the TARDIS tells you, and you'll have it done in no time." She retrieved the staser, and a handful of oddments including a sonic particle accelerator that she retrieved, at the TARDIS' instruction, from the space beneath the grilling, and handed it to Donna. "There. Everything you should need. Now get to work!"
Donna stared at her, blue eyes wide, clearly shocked.
"Donna Noble," Romana said, placing both hands on the other woman's shoulders, "I don't know what it is about you, but the timelines of each and every piece of matter in this universe, and most likely every other, are converging on you. It's not as strong as it was before- actually, it has slackened quite a lot since we were separated from the Doctor- but regardless, something you do today is critically important to the survival of everyone and everything. I have no idea why you're so firm in your belief of your own incompetence, but I can tell you just in the last few minutes that you have proven that you have a good, rational mind, and frankly, that's one of the most useful attributes a person can possess. This moment is pivotal in Time, and you're pivotal to this moment, and I need your help! Now please, start retrofitting that staser. I've got a chameleon circuit to repair!"
She darted away, and Donna was left holding the preferred weapon of Gallifrey and an insane hodgepodge of seemingly random items, not to mention a head full of confusion.
A/N- Another chapter shorter than I'd like it to be, but upon revision, this scene stood better on its own than if I were to include the next one in the same chapter.
Anyway, if you don't see something in this fic, that means it didn't change, and as I'm not keen on transcribing every single scene from Journey's End word-for-word (because let's face it, if you wanted that, you could just go watch the thing), you'll just have to rely on your memory. This is fan fiction, not my novel. *wink and/or grin*