The Good People's War
It's funny what makes it into the history books...
It's even funnier what makes it into the myths. Some of them tell the story of timelords, of course, but others speak of stranger things. Brave women who walked the Earth. Brave men who defied the rules of time. Defenders of the Earth. Children of time. A creature called Bad Wolf.
Lorna Bucket (whose name sounded much prettier in the language of the Gamma Forest) was reading. In her dorm on Demons Run she was the lone reader, and the other women avoided her for it. Soldiers, their kind of soldiers, shouldn't read, shouldn't think...
The Bible was the one exception.
So Lorna kept her books on myth hidden inside the grey cover of a Bible, and watched for a mention of the Doctor. People she knew were taken for 'conversion tutorials', and never returned, but she believed with all her heart that the Doctor would come, sometime soon, and everything would be alright. No-one would be allowed to die. No-one ever died, around him. Her parents? In danger back then, and still living. Her sisters? The same. Her friends, her classmates, all in the Forest were still living.
He was coming, she knew it. So she dug deep into the story of Pandora's Box, and noted all the variations. The story that Hope remained in the box was the one constant, other books told different stories. One spoke of a guardian for the box, an immortal who'd protected it. The Lone Centurion, or the Last Centurion. Definately, definately a myth, but Lorna hoped he was based on the Doctor. It sounded like him. One of the things he'd spoken to her, all that time ago, while he held her hand and ran, was that he was essentially immortal...
He'd remember her. How could he not, when she remembered him so vividly?
She gathered material for her prayer leaf- a shred of uniform there, a stolen sock there- and sewed, and waited. Somewhere across the universe, a bunch of myths got ready for battle...
Demons run, when a good man goes to war...
"You've been there for ten minutes," said the Doctor. "She's not there."
Rory was sitting against the door of the TARDIS, looking at the place where his wife had been.
"It's alright for you," he said, in a vicious tone which didn't suit him, "you've never seen the woman you love just...vanish."
The Doctor said nothing. The moment passed. "Come on, Rory. Time to go."
"We're not going straight to get her, are we?" said Rory, slowly rising. "You would have done it already."
"I have a plan."
"This plan involves her being alone and...abandoned for quite some time, doesn't it?"
"We can do it in a month."
"A month." Rory said in a monotone.
The Doctor moved towards the console and pressed a button. Then he turned and smiled for the first time in quite a while. "You're a father, Rory Pond."
Rory's legs actually gave way under him, just for a second, and he grabbed the TARDIS railing. And stared. "It's mine? It's not...they didn't do something to her? It's a human baby? And it's mine?"
"Oh my God." He let go of the railing, his hands still unsteady. "I thought...I thought they might have..." He didn't finish and the Doctor said nothing. "I wasn't there. I couldn't help her, I couldn't..."
"But you will."
"I have a baby."
"Congratulations," said the Doctor, with a little smile, and then he almost casually pulled a large sword out from under the console and handed it to him. Rory took it and swallowed.
"I have to do this as the Last Centurion, don't I? I can't be me. I can't be a nurse. Not now."
"You're Amy's husband no matter what you are."
The Doctor started rummaging around beneath the console. He produced a cardboard box in which some familiar clothes lay, beneath a pile of bow ties and jackets. "You said there was a door in your head. Time to open it."
Rory tossed the sword from hand to hand, not even realising he was doing it. But he was handling it like he'd held one all his life."I don't kill people. But the Last Centurion might."
"Well," the Doctor said, and there was a long pause, "make sure you kill the right people."
That didn't sound right at all, but not much did at the moment. Rory opened the door in his head.
Night will fall...
A little house in London, quiet and secluded and oddly familiar, even though he'd never been there before. The Doctor rang the doorbell.
Martha Jones answered.
She stood staring at him for quite a while, and then said, "It's you. Isn't it?"
"I thought the TARDIS in your front garden might have tipped you off."
"You can't be too careful," she said, and although she was trying not to, she was smiling widely. "It's you! I don't believe it! I heard things from Sarah Jane, but I thought..."
"That I'd forgotten about you?" the Doctor asked. He smiled too, not well, and Martha guessed straight away.
"Something's wrong. Isn't it?" And she herded him in, past hanging pictures the Doctor didn't have time to look at, to a living room, to a sofa. They sat. And then Mickey Smith came in, holding a baby. And the Doctor stood up again.
"Oh my God," Mickey said.
"Mickey," said Martha, "it's him."
"I..." Mickey was lost for words. "Doctor? What happened?"
"Nothing, nothing," the Doctor said, staring intently at the baby. "Who's...who's this?"
"This is Annette," Mickey said. "Our daughter."
"Hello," the Doctor whispered. He looked at her for a long time, patted her head, and then he moved towards the door.
"She's lovely," he said. "Take care of her."
"Doctor," Martha said sternly, "you can't just turn up here, after all this time, and then leave."
"No," said the Doctor, "I think I can."
"What the hell is going on?" Mickey demanded, and then looked guiltily down at his baby, as if apologising for swearing in her presence. "Doctor?"
"Nothing that affects you, or the planet, or the universe- just something bad happened, to someone I love."
"Rose?" Mickey asked, although it sounded rather like he blurted the name before he could stop himself.
"No. Not her. But things are bad enough that I need an army to save this one woman. Bad people are doing bad things."
"And you came to us," Martha said softly. "Us soldiers."
"But you're not soldiers, not anymore. Martha, Mickey- do you know what happened to Jack?"
...and drown the sun, when a good man goes to war...
"So," said the Doctor.
"I hate it when people begin a conversation with 'so'," Jack said. "You always know something bad's coming."
"So," the Doctor said pointedly, "Jack, I need you."
"Waited so long to hear those words!"
The Doctor smiled despite himself. "I need an army. You're a one-man army. And a good man. I'm asking you, Captain Jack."
"To do what?"
"What you're best at." The Doctor looked around the bar. They were somewhere in America and almost completely alone. "Help me."
"What's going on?" Jack asked, downing his drink. "Tell me..." Suddenly a look of fear crossed his face. "Tell me it's not Gwen. Or Martha."
"They're both fine." The Doctor looked at him. "Martha has a baby now."
"Her as well?" Jack stared into nothing. "Is it Mickey's? Didn't think he had it in him."
"Jack, why don't you go back to them?"
"Why don't you?"
The two immortals sat in silence for what seemed like a long time. Then Jack said, "Seriously, what's going on?"
"Someone close to me was stolen. She's been imprisoned. She gave birth in prison and evil people want the child."
Jack stared in disbelief and laughed. "Didn't think you had it in you either! Rose, Martha, Donna, you never made a move! This one must be really special."
"She is," the Doctor said, "but I'm not the father."
"Oh," Jack said. He thought about things. "So, a human child. Right? Why? Who'd snatch a regular human?"
"Jack, I just want your help."
"You don't need me."
"A baby's been stolen." The Doctor took a deep breath. "If that baby's parents were there now, they'd beg you to help. They'd...I think...they'd look into your eyes and know you were a father too. And they'd ask why you wouldn't help."
Jack changed completely, crumpling into himself, becoming a shadow. He said, "And you'd know the answer."
"Come with me, Jack."
"I killed children. More than once." Jack's voice was almost a monotone and the Doctor realised how very much he missed the original Jack, the man who'd gleefully kissed monsters. "Don't ask me, Doctor."
"I could beg you."
The Doctor sighed. "If you change your mind." He dropped a vortex manipulator, Jack's original one, on the table. And stood up. "Goodbye, Jack."
Jack sighed and turned back to his drink. The Doctor headed towards the door, but then stopped and turned around. "How did things go with Alonso?"
"He's great. An awesome guy. But I couldn't make it stick, not after Ianto."
Something died in Jack's eyes. "Goodbye, Doctor."
Night will fall...
Madame Vastra strode into the TARDIS like it was her own. She was the first to see Rory slumped by the console, still in his armour, and asleep.
"Soldiers do not sleep on the job," she said, and jabbed him awake with her sword. Jenny watched in amusement as the man woke up and saw her. And gave a gasp and stood up.
"Not you, you're dead!" he yelled.
"She certainly is not," Jenny said crossly. Rory gawped at her too.
The Doctor watched from the doorway. "Minor misunderstanding," he said brightly. "Rory, this is Madame Vastra and Jenny. Madame Vastra and Jenny, this is Rory."
Madame Vastra tilted her head. "Your own human?"
"Yes. He's my...sidekick? Friend? Friend and sidekick."
"Ooh," said Jenny. "Do you two, you know...?"
"No!" said Rory.
"Not as far as I know of," the Doctor said. "But I'm sure there's a fun alternate timeline out there..."
Rory just frowned. They stood around awkwardly.
"I hate having to lighten the mood," the Doctor said. "So. You two. Be nice to Rory. He's been through a lot."
"And seems to have seen me before," Madame Vastra said, looking quite a bit more reptile than human under the lights of the TARDIS. "So, soldier..."
"Not you," Rory said hastily. "I've never met you. Another...one of you."
"Homo reptilia," the Doctor said.
"Yeah. Another homo reptilia. She shot me."
"Did she have a good reason?" Madame Vastra asked, still eyeing him.
"She didn't," the Doctor called from the console.
Madame Vastra looked to the Doctor, then to Jenny, then to Rory. "Very well." She slunk away. Jenny looked at Rory with a newfound interest.
"One of her shot you, eh?"
"Killed me," said Rory.
Madame Vastra stared back at him.
"I got better."
...and dark will rise...
The Fat One and the Thin One did actually have names. The thin one was Roddie. The fat one was Antonio. It was Antonio now who was staring into the box, about to make his religious donation, utterly terrified.
"You can't do this," he said. "I have a husband." But no-one listened. And it was about to happen, the blade was lifting up, when something went clang. And the blade flew away and clattered to the floor, and then the first of the faceless, heartless monks fell to the ground-
"Alright over there?" said a man, sliding to his side, and Antonio looked up into the face of the Doctor.
"Yes, me, just saved your life, no need to thank me, carry on!"
And a few more of the monks fell to the floor.
Antonio shouted, bizzarely, "You can't kill them!"
"Nonsense," said the Doctor, "they died long ago. Nothing living, nothing real in there!" And he picked up one of the discarded monk's robes, and wrapped it around himself. "Go and get your husband, there's a good man. And run!"
And then he leaped through the nearest door, and was gone.
"I knew he was really like that," said Antonio to nothing.
Demons run, but count the cost...
A bloke holding a sword knelt by the cot.
"Oh my God," he said, not for the first time. He put the sword back in the scabbard, picked up the baby, and held it like it was the most precious thing in the world, which it was. "You're our baby..."
Avery and Toby lingered in the doorway, Avery's hand on his son's shoulder.
"You're our baby," Rory said again. "You're a little Amy. Oh, you'll live the best life ever, I promise you..."
"I never held a baby before," Toby piped up. "Can I?"
"Hush, lad, let the man have his moment," Avery said.
"We'll take you so many places," Rory said, oblivious to the other people in the room. "We'll take you to America, Japan, France, Mars..."
"Mars?" Toby asked.
Rory became aware of them for the first time. He clutched the baby closer. "Avery, thanks for your help."
"Aye," said the pirate gruffly. "We'll be on our way. Got to get the boy back. Don't venture to the main hangar til my men give the signal, and give my regards to the Doctor." He turned and left, disappearing into his own ship, and Rory was left alone with the baby for a matter of seconds before Strax put in an appearance.
"What is it?" Rory asked, somewhat irritated.
The Sontaran marched forward. "Centurion! This is your young?"
"I am equipped with a scanner, suitable for all life forms, a gift from...him. Hold still-" Before Rory could blink, Strax had run a blue light over the baby. Then he pushed a button on his chest and the light vanished. "Healthy, strong bones, well equipped to hold a gun when the time comes. Oh, this one's a fighter! May she crush her enemies before a glorious death!"
"Wait a minute! She's never holding a gun and she's not doing any crushing!"
"No glorious death?"
The Sontaran did a vague approximation of a pout. "What else could a warrior want of its young? My clone sources would die screaming if they knew what became of me..."
"I'm not a warrior!"
"You're dressed as one of Earth's greatest. Some lowly, learned Sontarans study the great warriors of distant worlds, and you are a Hundred Man! A commander!"
The baby sniffled and Rory bounced it up and down. "But it's just a costume. Honestly. The Last Centurion doesn't have a wife and child. Rory does."
Strax muttered something that Rory thought was, "Aliens," and then a shout came from outside.
"Hurry! Bring the baby!"
Rory moved towards the door, clutching the child. Pirates were scattering all over the place, but he was glad to note that none of them were dead. Strax followed him.
"Well, this warrior will fight and die for the glory of the Sontarans!"
"Whatever. This one wants its kid to have a dad." Rory said, and ran down the corridors towards his wife. "Unless there's no other way," he said to the baby. "Sorry. But I'll probably be back. I have a track record of that sort of thing." And he ran to Amy's door.
...the battle is won...
A bunch of mismatched warriors and sort-of warriors gathered round.
"Don't die," said Jenny.
"Oh, love," said her girlfriend.
Lorna readied her gun and thought of the Doctor, but then found herself thinking of other things too. Nothing had happened before or since the Doctor had come to the Forest, but there had been trees. Lots of trees. And laughter. And she might die here, far from her family, far from home.
"Fe-male!" the Sontaran barked. "Watch my back."
Lorna did so. Monsters were coming. The Centurion held a sword and a gun, the Silurian and the human were holding hands, the big blue man was lying headless on the floor...
She didn't want to die. Not really.
The Headless Monks marched on. And several things happened at once.
...but the child is lost.
Rory knew when he saw the liquid on the floor. He turned away and was instantly sick.
"She's gone, they took her, took Melody," Amy whispered. Rory crawled to her and held her.
"Amy, we'll find her, I promise, me and the Doctor and our army, we'll tear the world apart..."
"I'll kill them," Amy hissed, buried in his arms. "I'll take a gun and kill them all. I don't care what the Doctor thinks, I'll kill them."
"Me too," said Rory, and he meant it as much as she did.
Amy held him and cried and he was crying too. Finally, they managed to get up and walk back to where their army had been. The dying and dead lay on the floor and everything was wrong, so wrong.
"Amy?" Jenny asked urgently. Rory wondered when in all the chaos she managed to learn her name.
"They took her," Amy whispered. "She was a Ganger all along. I held her and she...and she..." She sank onto a box, frozen like a statue, Jenny stroking her hair. Rory stood there helpless.
"We'll save her," he said. "The Doctor and us."
Amy didn't even react to the Doctor's name, and that plunged fear even deeper into his heart.
Madame Vastra sheathed her sword. She seemed to look right past Amy, but there might have been something in her eyes. "Centurion. Your job now is to tend to the dying."
"My job is to tend to my wife!"
"It's okay," Amy said numbly. "You have to be the Last Centurion."
"I have to be Rory!"
"Let her be," Jenny said quietly. "She's a mother whose child just vanished from her arms. Not even the father can understand that."
Rory wondered how Jenny knew of such things, but moved quietly away. The Doctor burst into the room.
"Yeah," Rory said. "We know."
...when a good man goes to war.
"I'm your daughter," River said, and silence fell. Amy tried to speak but nothing came out, and Rory stared right into her eyes...
The whole universe was waiting.
"That dress is far too revealing, you're not going out like that," Rory managed to say, and Amy exploded into tears and laughter, falling to the floor. River smiled. It was Amy's smile.
Amy reached for her. And for one brief second everything was okay.