Disclaimer: If I owned anything important, do you think I'd be here?
Summary: Rewritten for BAW. AU: It was universal truth that they could never be separated for long. Pete catches the Doctor, not Rose, and Rose lives on, determined to find him, with her eager and trusty companion, Martha. S3 w/ Rose, Martha, and original eps.
Author's Note/Foreword: I want to apologize on behalf of my friend, Black Alya Wolf, for the permanent hiatus any of her stories have taken. We've been friends for a while, and she trusts me, so she's given me Universal Truth to complete, because she said, and I quote, "The plot bunny is too fucking evil to leave me alone even after I've left." So here it is, and I hope I've justified her faith.
By the way, if you came straight here from Universal Truth, I'm sorry, but it would be a really good idea to read Children of Time from the beginning, because I have changed some things - changed, not merely beta'd - so it would behoove both of us for you to keep yourself apprised of these changes so there is no future confusion. Thanks.
And for those who get bored because you've seen these episodes a million times, keep reading - you might be surprised!
Rose and Jones, Part I
She was laying naked by a clear black lake on a cool dark night. The moon was big and bright, supernatural and raw in its primal simplicity. Her hand twitched in the water, causing ripples in the surface which reflected the silvery light and the little twinkling dots that made up the stars.
In the distance, a wolf howled painfully. She jerked upright in surprise.
There was a tree nearby, and from it a raven launched itself into the sky. She watched it fly in dizzying circles before coming to land on her chest. Curiously, she wasn't afraid or surprised. She looked into the bird's eyes and saw a reflection of herself.
A large white wolf appeared then, startling the raven into flight.
She sat up and watched them, delighted by this show of nature. Behind her, the lake rippled incessantly outward, never stopping.
The raven, calmer now, swooped low and goaded the wolf into taking a swipe at it. The wolf howled again, this time with such purifying happiness the woman by the lake could not help but shiver with joy. The raven cawed and circled and the wolf followed, chasing it. The raven darted just out of reach, then dropped back to land on the wolf's head.
She could swear she heard them laughing. The invisible sound breathed on the surface of the lake and a tidal wave blew outward, rising higher and higher until it covered the sky and fell backward, smothering her, drowning her. She drowned laughing.
ΘΣ ... ΘΣ
It was an ordinary day on an ordinary street in an ordinary city on an ordinary world.
Well, that was what most people were under the impression of, anyway.
Some could call it chaos. Just about everyone referred to it as normality. Hustle and bustle, dogs barking, kids screaming, girls chatting, lovers romancing, teens loitering, beggars imploring off the indifferent, televisions in shop windows roaring, vibrant colors assaulting the senses; a mess of a crowd, really, in which existed a twisted order only the human race could ever find. Unique in its simultaneous tranquility and discord, beautiful in its ignorant simplicity, horrendous in its disregard for these, London, England was a haven for humanity. There was a kind of beauty to it.
Perfectly ordinary beauty.
A phone rang, and a pretty, dark-skinned woman reached automatically into the purse slung over her left shoulder to pull out a sleek silver cell. Around her, there were plenty of people doing the same thing, people ages older and younger alike. Others were silent, preoccupied and intent; several were medicating their eardrums with a guarantee of an eventual hearing disability and bobbing their heads happily as they did so. Some poor idiot dropped his phone or MP3 player or iPod or some bizarre mix of all of three down a city drain by the curb, but the woman we're currently focusing upon could hardly care enough to notice, already talking rapidly into the mouthpiece of the phone she'd just answered as she walked along the street.
That was ordinary, too.
"You're up early! What's happenin'?"
From the woman's side of the conversation, there could only be heard gibberish from the other end, but she seemed to decipher it somehow and kept walking and talking like this was something she went through every day of her life.
It probably was, at that.
The phone rang again, and the woman rolled her eyes before saying her goodbyes and answering whoever had had the grace to interrupt her. More gibberish. That conversation lasted all of a minute, then the phone rang again and the woman was forced to say goodbye once more and answer the next aggravator. Her mum, apparently.
There was a party going on or something; the first caller had been upset about someone bringing someone who wasn't welcome to the party and wanted the dark, pretty woman to fix it; the second was apparently called "Leo" and was the cause of the commotion to start with, though he really didn't want a party at all.
The phone rang again. Busy, this woman's life. It was her dad. Ah, so this was the one bringing the unwelcome guest – Annalise, or at least that's what it sounded like her name was. A few people grimaced at the woman in sympathy as they walked by her and heard the high-pitched wail emit from the phone, but the woman either did not notice or tried not to.
Finally, she snapped the phone closed, apparently finished. At last, all that was ordinary had been put out of the way.
A bottle-blonde with hazel eyes marched up the street towards her. At first glance, she actually appeared to be casually strolling along, but there was something about her that caused the crowd to part, that caused a few people to stare but which was entirely imperceptible to the untrained eye. She had a driven purpose, and she wasn't afraid to get there. It was the sort of woman you might expect to see as some heroine in some movie that no one expected to ever be real because heroes like that didn't exist. As it was, this young woman most surely did exist, and it was this distinguishable fact that so clearly set her apart from the bustling, bumbling crowd of the street.
Martha – that's the woman we've been following along Chanslor street, not the bottle-blonde stranger – had fully intended to keep walking. Common sense would have suggested that the other woman would get of the way, but she didn't so Martha tried to swerve to the side; only the stranger seemed intent on literally bumping into her. Their shoulders collided and Martha bounced back farther than she expected, for the stranger didn't seem that awfully strong to her.
"Watch it!" She said crossly to the other woman as she hurried past.
The blonde stopped and looked back at Martha, who was glaring and expecting an apology. People walked past them with a few grumbled complaints of insanity. The blonde gave her a cheeky grin and held up a very familiar-looking pen – Martha's pen, which last she saw had been inside the bag that was slung over her shoulder….
Martha scowled. "Hey!"
The stranger just caught her tongue between the teeth of her smile and wiggled the pen back and forth between her fingers. "I'll give it back to you tonight," she said over the bustle of the street, "sorry!"
And then she turned on her heel and melted into the crowd and Martha blinked, sure that she must have imagined it all.
Afterwards, she could not shake the feeling that something extraordinary had just been set in motion.
ΘΣ ... ΘΣ
She was practically barreled over on her way into the hospital by some weird guy in a biker's get-up; a courier, she thought. But then he was completely dressed in black and it was stifling hot outside and she couldn't see how the guy could stand it.
Then as she closed up her locker after changing into her medical student gear she was shocked painfully – a shock brighter and more severe than any she had ever experienced before. It wasn't like there were any rugs around, either.
Still, Martha Jones moved on, dismissing it all. It was supposed to be an ordinary day, after all.
She even laughed when Swales called Stoker the "Big Bad Wolf" with all his students trailing along like frightened piglets cowed into service. Nothing was wrong, she told herself as Mr. Stoker took them through the patients, examining them with inexpert hands and getting everything wrong and nothing right. It was a day quite like every other.
After the students had tended to Florence Finnegan, she had almost convinced herself of that. Although, that creepy old lady gave her the chills. There was something about her that made Martha want to run and hide under the nearest bed. But then Mr. Stoker drew back the curtain around the next patient's bed and Martha almost thought she was going to have a stroke.
"Now then, Miss Tyler," said Stoker, "A very good morning to you. How are you today?"
Martha tried not to gape too openly at the woman, either the one she had seen earlier or an exact replica of her.
"Oh, just miserable," Tyler laughed good-naturedly.
"Rose Tyler," rattled off Stoker to Martha and the other students. Swales and Morganstern started taking notes. "Admitted yesterday with severe abdominal pains. Miss Jones," he addressed her specifically, and Martha looked up, startled; "why don't you see what you can find? Amaze me," he added, like he didn't expect she could.
Martha nodded, taking out her stethoscope, and edged over to Miss Tyler.
"Wasn't very clever, running around outside, stealing my pen, was it?" She said to her as she put the plugs in her ears. She glared at the woman reproachfully; it wasn't that it had been a particularly important pen, but it had been hers, and Tyler had just taken it and run off without any good explanation whatsoever.
Tyler gave her a politely bemused glance that put her off. "What?"
Martha pulled back, frowning. "On Chanslor Street," she decided to remind her. "You bumped into me and stole my pen and just ran away like it was nothing!"
"I did? When was that?" asked Tyler. She looked truly perplexed, but Martha wasn't buying it.
"I don't know, you just did, this morning. I'd like to know why myself, since it was my pen."
"Not me," Tyler insisted with a sort of confused conviction. "I've been here all morning. Jus' ask the nurses, they'll tell ya."
Martha took off the stethoscope without having done anything with it, looking at Tyler incredulously.
"Well, that's weird," she noted. Not so ordinary. "Have you got a sister?"
Tyler shook her head, a crease between her dark brows.
"No, never. Only child, me."
She opened her mouth to question her again, but Mr. Stoker chose that time to pipe up sardonically; "As time passes and I grow ever more infirm and weary, Miss Jones…"
Martha scowled mentally. She'd certainly like to show him where he could stuff it…but this training was too important. Until she passed her exams…
"Sorry," she muttered. She put the stethoscope back on and pressed it to the patient's middle, checking mostly for a second heartbeat, partly for anything else irregular or maybe something in the lungs.
Well, the heartbeat was fine, and there wasn't a second one, so she wasn't pregnant – Martha hadn't thought she would be, anyway. But wait…what was…was that music? What? Some kind of…of singing? What the hell? She looked at Tyler strangely and got a slightly annoyed look in return.
She barely heard Stoker's insult, but managed to catch the end of it, something about being incapable of finding the heart. She straightened, trying hard not to stare at Rose Tyler.
"Um…" she started eloquently, then shook her head to herself. The world was going mad today. "I don't know," she thought wildly for something else to say, and the words blurted from her mouth before she could even think about them properly; "Stomach cramps?"
She felt like hitting herself with a metal pole for that, particularly as Stoker pointed out her mistake, then went on to say that she should have looked at the stupid charts first. He was shocked when he went to reach for it. Served him right.
"That happened to me this morning," said Martha, grateful someone else got to share in something she'd experienced today.
"Same thing on the door."
"And me, on the lift."
Okay, a few someones.
"Well, it's only expected," said Stoker, like he knew everything. "There's a thunderstorm moving in and lightning is a form of static electricity, as was proven by…? Anyone?"
"Benjamin Franklin," voiced Tyler when nobody else offered an answer. The students stared at her. "That was fun," the woman continued. "Long day. I got rope burns off that kite, and completely soaked…"
"Quite," uttered Stoker, clearly disturbed.
"And then my friend got electrocuted!" she announced, like that was something to be proud of.
"Moving on." Stoker said before Miss Tyler could say more. Stoker caught the arm of a passing nurse and muttered to him a recommendation for psychiatric, which Tyler overheard if her answering grin was anything to go by.
Martha trudged reluctantly after the rest of the students, looking over her shoulder at the stranger on the bed.
ΘΣ ... ΘΣ
It was lunch, and she was living her routine life.
"No, listen," said Martha to her phone, grinning to herself. "I've worked out a plan. We tell Annalise that the buffet tonight is one hundred percent carbohydrate, and she won't turn up."
Her sister walked toward the hospital from a few blocks away and replied, "I wish you'd take this seriously; that's our inheritance she's spending – on a fake tan! Tell you what, I'm not that far away, I'll drop by for a sandwich and we'll draw up a better plan."
"What, in this weather?" said Martha dubiously, staring out the window at the wild storm outside. It was pouring; what could Tish be thinking? "It's pouring down."
"It's not raining here," noted Tish, sounding a little confused. She rounded a corner and stopped to stare at Royal Hope Hospital and the ominous, dark gray cloud which hung above it. "Well, that's weird. It's sitting right on top of you – I can see it, but it's dry where I am."
Martha shook her head even though Tish couldn't see her. Swales was making her lunch behind her. "Well, you just got lucky."
"No, but…" she sounded incredulous; "it's like the cartoons – you know, when a man's got a cloud over his head."
This sounded so ridiculous – and, after what she'd seen today, maybe even possible – that Martha ignored it.
"Yeah, but listen, I'll tell you what we'll do…" she stopped, pulling the phone away for a second. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw movement in the doorway. It was that woman again, strolling casually down the corridor like she owned the place in her ratty pink jim-jams and a dusty rose dressing gown. She must have sensed her gaze, for she turned and peeked briefly into the room, meeting Martha's eyes. She smirked briefly, then turned and walked away.
"We tell Dad and Annalise to get there early, at about seven-thirty, and tell Leo to get there at the same time to do that birthday stuff. We tell Mum to get there at eight-thirty or nine, and that gives me time to have a word with Annalise an –"
Swales nudged her arm suddenly, like she was frightened, and Martha turned to face her, her other hand going to the phone to cover it. "What?"
Swales wasn't looking at her, though, she was staring out the window behind Martha.
"The rain," she said, like she couldn't believe it existed.
"It's only rain," Martha assured her patronizingly.
"Martha," said Tish from the mobile at her ear; Martha pulled away her hand. "Have you seen the rain?"
"Why is everyone fussing about rain?" asked Martha to no one in particular, trying not to laugh. The whole world was going mad today, it was.
Swales was still staring, however.
"It's going up," she said, taking a half a step forward. Martha frowned.
"The rain is going up," said Tish, disbelief coloring her voice.
It was so incredibly absurd that both of them had said it, Martha really had no choice but to turn around and look. She stared out the window with Swales at her side, watching as it rained…upside down.
Suddenly, the whole hospital shook from its foundations, a bright flash of lightning encompassing everything, blinding her.
Martha yelped and stumbled, abandoning the cell phone as she nearly fell to the ground, and gripped the edge of a counter that was torn from her hands with another fierce jar. Swales was having just as hard of a time. They toppled to the ground a few times together, managed to get upright, fell again, and stumbled into obstacles as the ground beneath them trembled violently. The lightning's flash took a while to dissipate, and when it finally did the hospital stopped quaking as well, with both Swales and Martha frightened out of their minds.
The following silence was far too loud.
Martha breathed heavily, overwhelmed.
"What the hell was that?"
"Are you all right?" Swales asked her, sitting in a corner between counter and wall.
She started to get up, brushing away a bit of what looked like plaster – quite a few things had fallen, including them – off her arm.
"Think so, yeah." She looked out the window and tried not to believe that she was seeing what she was seeing. "It felt like a…an earthquake, or…"
Her voice trailed off.
"Martha," said Swales from the floor, glancing up at what she could see of the window. "It's night."
Martha took a step forward without looking at her.
"It was lunchtime."
"It's not night," said Martha, resigned. Swales started to get up so she could see whatever it was Martha was seeing.
"It's got to be," she muttered, "it's dark."
"We're on the moon."
"We're on the moon," she repeated, ignoring Swales. "We're on the bloody moon."
Then the panic started. Screams, dreadful, terrified screams rang through the hospital, penetrating Martha's ears, killing them.
She left Swales where she was and bounded through the doors, trying not to be disturbed by the flurry of patients that swarmed the halls.
Overwhelmed again, she ducked into an empty ward and stared out its window, trying and failing to understand the landscape and the Earth hanging low on the horizon. Her mind wandered back to Rose Tyler. Was she involved, somehow? It would really only make sense, if she was. One mysterious patient, one mysterious space-traveling hospital; it fit, sort of.
Behind her, the screams continued. Well, if she was going to be the only sensible one around here…
She ran out, passing by Florence Finnegan – the salt-deficient patient they'd seen right before Miss Tyler – who tried to get her attention, and then into a ward, Swales following her.
"All right now, everyone back to bed! We've got an emergency –" obviously; " – but we'll sort it out."
She went to the window as the ward slowly calmed, Swales close behind. The outside looked the same as it had through the last two windows. Reality was a bit crushing.
"It's real," she breathed, a sense of wonder creeping into her voice now. They were on the moon! "It's really real!"
It didn't make sense. Hospitals couldn't travel space! They didn't have the right equipment, certainly; it wasn't like she could go bounding out there in a space suit…but wait a second…they were alive. How could they be alive? The hospital wasn't a spaceship, it wasn't protected, so how…how were they even breathing?
"Hold on," she muttered, reaching up to undo the latch on the window.
"No, don't!" shouted Swales, grabbing onto Martha's hands. "We'll lose all the air!"
"But they're not exactly airtight – if the air was going to get sucked out, it would have happened straight away, but it didn't. So how come?"
"Fair point," said a familiar voice. Martha spun around to see the curtain around the nearest bed being drawn back to reveal Tyler in her black leather jacket and dark jeans. "Brilliant, actually. What was your name again? Jones, right?"
Martha nodded. "Yeah. Martha."
Tyler smiled at her, a smile that transformed her ordinary features into something so beautiful Martha found herself breathless for it. "Pleased to meet you again, Martha Jones. Now, as you have cleverly pointed out, these windows are not airtight, so…" she frowned then, wandering over to the window and gazing outside; "how are we still breathing?"
"We can't be," Swales whimpered.
Tyler's eyes darted to her and her face softened. She walked to the med. student's side and took her hand. "It'll be all right," she assured her softly. "Don't worry about it, 'kay? I'll get it taken care of. Martha?"
"Yeah?" Martha responded, possibly a little too quickly. Her eyes were riveted to Tyler and Swales' linked hands. Sensing her gaze, Tyler let go and whispered something in Swales' ear, to which the woman nodded and walked away to sit down on a bed with her head in her hands. "What?"
"Is there a balcony or somethin' on this floor?"
"By the patients' lounge, yeah," Martha nodded.
"Fancy goin' out?" Tyler asked, a mischievious glint to her eyes that Martha had never seen in the eyes of any human being she had ever seen before.
"We might die, you know," she warned. Something in her eyes flashed briefly, burning brighter and hotter than the sun.
"We might not." Martha retorted.
"Great!" She exclaimed, making Martha jump. "That attitude'll get you far. C'mon, then!"
Tyler jogged to the door, Martha following close behind. Then she slowed and let Martha lead her to the patient's lounge and past it to the balcony. She seemed as excited as a kid on a field trip, and Martha felt like a duped chaperone.
Martha took a deep, steadying breath, and then they opened the doors together.
Tyler hopped outside gleefully as soon as they realized they were not going to get sucked into the vacuum of space, spinning in a little circle and grinning maniacally out at the moon while Martha stared at her, blinking. Then Tyler turned to face her, and Martha found her grin rather infectious.
"We're on the moon!" she practically squealed. Martha had to laugh a little – honestly, laughing and dancing in the face of imminent death; who couldn't admire that?
Martha breathed deeply and leaned against the low stone wall of the balcony, looking out over the surface of the moon. Miss Tyler joined her.
"We've got air," Martha murmured, reveling in it. "How does that work?"
"No idea. I'm jus' glad it does," replied Tyler, watching the other woman as she watched the Earth.
"I've got a party tonight," she said, more to herself than to Tyler. It didn't seem to matter as much anymore somehow, but the other woman turned to her like she'd suddenly become the most fascinating thing in existence. "It's my brother's twenty-first. My mother's gonna be really…" she paused, feeling a hard lump form in her throat built from the suppression of panic and wonder and anything else that may have reduced her to incoherent gibberish far earlier; "really…"
But she couldn't continue. Here she was, on the moon, looking down at her stupid, crazy, beautiful planet. A planet where her mum fought with her dad and hated Annalise and where her sister was probably staring at the spot where the hospital had been and cursing Martha for not taking her with her – imagine, the publicity alone…
Miracle oxygen around them or not, she found it rather hard to breathe.
"Are you okay?" Tyler asked. Martha jumped; she hadn't noticed, but the woman had gently clasped one of her hands in her own, reminding her of the comfort she had seen her show Swales. The understanding in that warm, hazel gaze tugged sharply at something in the vicinity of Martha's chest.
"D'you want to go back in?"
Martha looked at her for a moment and shook her head with a small laugh.
"No way! I mean, we could die any minute, but all the same…it's beautiful."
She looked back at the Earth and the surface of the moon. And beautiful it was. There were no adequate words, but that was the best she could do. It was more than, say, looking out over the Grand Canyon or a massive lake with mountains and a forest, more than watching a sunset or the dawn of a new day. Those were beautiful, too. But this…this was something else. This was Earth, all of it, and it was amazing. It put into perspective all the people and lives and sights and sounds and smells down there. They were paltry, an insignificant little spark compared to the whole wide fire of the world.
"How many people want to go to the moon? – And here we are!"
"Here we are," agreed Tyler, also looking in wonder at the Earth. She released Martha's hand and rested both elbows on the low wall. "Amazing, isn't it? I'll never forget the first time I…" Her voice trailed away. A look of pain briefly crossed her features and she swallowed hard. Martha decided not to pry.
Martha looked beyond the planet and gazed into the stars. Were there others out there like them? Aliens? It was inevitable to wonder that at some point in one's life, and she had before, but not like this. Not from here, when the reality, the splendor, was so much nearer. It made her feet itch and her back ache in a way that always made her want to walk out and go for a nice run or fast walk because she just couldn't stay still any longer and running felt so nice, so right.
And this woman…who was she? Martha had almost forgotten her transgression of stealing that stupid pen. She supposed it didn't really matter now; she decided to let the event slide.
Martha asked, "What d'you think happened?"
"What do you think?" Tyler retorted, raising an eyebrow.
"Extraterrestrial," Martha said immediately, that itchy feeling coming back. "It's got to be. I dunno…a few years ago that might have sounded mad, but these days? That spaceship flying into Big Ben, Christmas, those Cyberman things…" she paused, looking at Tyler, and was surprised to note that she had stiffened a little at her side. "I had a cousin," she said sadly, and she wasn't sure why, for she was talking to a complete stranger who probably couldn't care less. "Adeola. She worked at Canary Wharf. Never came home."
"I'm sorry," said Tyler, looking at her with compassion.
Martha just nodded. "Yeah."
She expected that to be the end of it, but Tyler kept talking, her gaze turned inward, a tortured look that Martha couldn't bear to see, so she looked back at the Earth again.
"I was there," she said, "in the battle."
"What happened?" Martha dared to ask.
"Nothing," said Tyler quickly. When Martha raised an eyebrow at her, she ammended quietly, "Just death. An'…an' yeah, mostly…death. Sort of." She sniffed once.
Martha felt sad again, wondering absentmindedly what her own family was doing now. What if she never got back? Would they still have that stupid party tonight? Would they mourn, cry?
She would get back.
"I promise you, Miss Tyler, we will find a way out. If we can travel to the moon, then we can travel back. There's got to be a way."
Tyler sighed and pushed away from the wall. "My name is Rose, not Miss Tyler. You make me sound uptight or something."
Martha smirked. "Sorry."
"Don't worry about it."
"So…what are you doing here?"
Rose looked at her guardedly. "I'm jus' a patient. You saw me."
"Right," Martha snorted. "And I'm Wonder Woman."
Rose faked a surprised look. "You are? You're shorter than I thought you'd be."
Martha snorted in spite of herself.
"Really, though. You seem to know what's going on."
Rose grinned and shook her head. "That's actually why I'm here. I want to know what's goin' on. Gettin' on the moon's jus' the perk of it."
"You're mad," Martha muttered, shaking her head. Rose started wandering around the balcony, examining what seemed to Martha like random things. "D'you know what is letting us breathe?"
Rose frowned. "I really don't. But from what little science fiction I've read or watched – and all that I've seen – there's probably some kind of…" her face brightened as she came across a pebble. She picked it up, weighed it in her hand for a moment, then threw it out toward the surface of the moon. Several feet away, it hit some kind of invisible obstruction and fell to the ground. "Force field," she concluded, nodding. "That must be keepin' the air in. It wasn't just the hospital that got transmatted: the air did, too."
"But then…if this thing is like a bubble sealing us in, that means this is the only air we've got. What happens when we run out?"
Rose grimaced. "How many people are in this hospital?" She asked.
"Dunno, a thousand?"
"One thousand people," muttered Rose, looking horrified. "They're all gonna die. Suffocating on their own breath."
"Why would anyone do that?"
A noise drew their attention upward.
"Watch it," said Rose. "Ask them yourself. That must be whoever brought us here." She didn't appear frightened.
Three tall, cylindrical spaceships were landing on the moon, towers about the height of the hospital itself.
"Aliens," breathed Martha, amazed. "That's aliens. Real, proper aliens!"
Countless figures dressed all in black were marching toward them.
"Bugger I haven't seen 'em before," Rose muttered. Martha blinked at her.
"You've seen aliens?"
Rose waved her off. "Doesn't matter."
"But who are they? What do they want?"
She grinned at Martha. "Wanna find out?"
Rose shrugged. "Ask 'em."
ΘΣ ... ΘΣ
Martha breathed a sigh of relief when Rose crawled back to her position overlooking the waiting room, apparently unharmed.
Rose looked a little pale. "They're, um…like police, in a way, regulatin' galactic law. Sort of. They're cataloguing everyone down there, making sure they're human."
"Are you –"
"They didn't see me," Rose shook her head. "And it wouldn't matter if they had, 'cos I'm human."
"If they're police, are we under arrest? Are we…trespassing on the moon or something?" asked Martha.
"No," said Rose, looking pleasantly surprised. "But that's a good idea. The moon doesn't belong to anybody, so we can't be trespassing, and even if we were, Neil Armstrong would have been arrested a long time ago. No, it's not nearly that easy. They're looking for someone who looks human, but isn't. I would guess that they have technology to bring us here 'cos they can't legally search for whoever they're looking for on Earth. They'd need a warrant or something."
"You certainly seem to know a lot, Miss Rose. So what do you mean, 'galactic law'? I mean, where did you get that from?"
"My friend, he…" Rose looked away from Martha to avoid meeting her eyes. "He used to mention something about them, whenever we really got into trouble. The Shadow Proclamation. That's what these things are part of. Judoon. He told me a little about them."
"'Shadow Proclamation'?" Martha repeated, bemused. "Sounds…insidious."
Rose smiled a little. "It does, doesn't it?"
"So what kind of alien could they be looking for?"
Rose looked thoughtful. "I dunno, really. Looks human, but isn't. There's thousands of aliens that fit that description."
Martha's jaw dropped. "Thousands?"
Rose nodded solemnly, appearing sympathetic to Martha's disbelief. "You get used to the idea, after a while."
Martha threw her such an incredulous glare that Rose had to chuckle. But then her expression became grave and serious. She looked at the rhino-things – Judoon, whatever – and then at Martha. There was something in her eyes that Martha couldn't decipher if she tried.
Martha cleared her throat and decided to make a suggestion. "Well, this is a hospital," she said. "If the alien was a patient, and they're probably kind of different from humans, then shouldn't something show up on file? Something that…sticks out?"
Rose bit her bottom lip and nodded, smiling. "I like your thinking, Martha. Any idea how to access these files?"
Martha hesitated. "We could use the computers, but it might be easier to just ask Mr. Stoker."
Rose jumped up quickly, startling Martha. "To Mr. Stoker, then. Lead the way, Miss Jones."
She broke into a run and Martha hurried to keep up and then get ahead of her. "This way!" She called over her shoulder.
The sound of marching troops – space rhinos, she was determined to call them – and panicked humans enveloped them, but on they ran.
The office was closed, but Martha barged in without knocking. She blamed her rudeness on the adrenaline. Rose lunged in after her and they both came to an abrupt halt. Rose cursed softly.
Florence Finnegan, flanked by a person dressed up like the courier Martha had seen earlier, was standing over Mr. Stoker. She held a straw with one hand to Mr. Stoker's neck and was slurping noisily from it with her mouth. The old woman looked up as soon as the door to the office opened, looking just as shocked as they were. After an instant spent staring at each other, Finnegan narrowed her eyes and pointed at Rose and Martha. "Get them!"
The creepy bodyguard burst into life. Rose grabbed Martha's hand and uttered a word Martha was sure she would get used to hearing; "Run!"