As a Soldier myself, I was powerfully fascinated by Jenny and her perception of The Doctor. This piece is a bit of a reflection on that.
Cover and Concealment
We ran up the steps, Dad, Donna, Martha, and me, following the scent of flowers, General Cobb's voice close behind. And we emerged into the most beautiful place I'd ever seen. More beautiful even than anything the progenation machine had programmed into my memory.
We were surrounded by lush greenery and brilliant blossoms. The air smelled clean and fresh. I stared, astonished, trying to look in every direction at once. It was so gorgeous it made my heart—hearts, I guess—ache to see it. Even so, I found myself evaluating our surroundings with a tactical eye. The dense foliage would provide plenty of concealment, but leaves wouldn't be of much use once bullets started flying. We would need cover, a shield to hide behind, if we were attacked.
Dad was positively delighted. "Oh, yes, yes," he said, with a smile that lit up hit entire face. I liked it when he smiled. "Isn't this brilliant?" He draped his long brown coat over a railing and turned to study a meter-high device that stood in the center of the overgrowth.
From its design, I could have taken it for a high-powered bomb. But when I looked into the glass sphere surmounting it, I knew what it was—the Source. Not a weapon as Dad had feared, but the captured Breath of God Herself. It glowed with divine light.
Martha and Donna were baffled by it, but Dad saw it with a scientist's eyes. "It's a… third-generation terraforming device," he announced.
"So why are we suddenly in Kew Gardens?" Donna asked. (Sometimes I think she could be deliberately thick, but I would never say that out loud.)
"'Cause that's what it does," Dad said. He gestured at the greenery around us. "All this, only bigger, much bigger. It's in a transit state. Producing all this must help keep it stable before they—"
He was interrupted by the sound of doors crashing open and combat boots striking metal as the Hath and Human forces found us at precisely the same moment.
And that was when I got to know my father for who and what he really was.
There was a great darkness in his soul—I'd glimpsed it in the prison cell. He hid behind it as though it would shield him from any more pain. But now he positively blazed with light, a warrior angel sent to restore peace.
"Stop!" he shouted as the room filled with the metallic clicking of weapons being cocked. "Hold your fire!" The light shone from his eyes as he stood between the two armies, arms outstretched as if he could physically hold them back. And maybe he could, because they came no closer.
"What is this, some kind of trap?" General Cobb demanded.
I'd looked up to him when I first stepped out of the machine. I'd thought him the epitome of everything a Soldier should be: fearless, determined, single-mindedly focused, and fully prepared to kill for his cause. But here he was, standing before the Source Itself, surrounded by miraculous life and beauty, and all he could see were threats and treachery. In the heart of the Lost Temple, he aimed a pistol at an Angel of God. How She must have wept! I felt no admiration for the General anymore, only pity for a poor, misguided soul.
And it was my father, The Doctor, the angel, who proved himself the true Soldier. What courage it must have taken to stand there, squarely in the kill zone, staring down the barrels of at least a dozen fully automatic rifles. What honor and integrity, to face down death in defense of his cause when he could have just run. What selflessness, to put himself in danger to save the lives of strangers whom he held in obvious contempt.
When he unleashed his own weaponry, it was a beautiful thing to watch. I was awestruck.
Empty-handed, he held back the opposing warriors. "You said you wanted this war over," he said to General Cobb.
"I want this war won!" the General insisted savagely.
"You can't win." The Doctor's voice was almost gentle, as if he were talking to children. "No one can." He turned to the Hath and back to the Humans as he spoke, and I could see their resolve faltering. "You don't even know why you're here. Your whole history, it's just… Chinese whispers, getting more distorted the more it's passed on! This—" he indicated the glass globe with both hands, "—is the Source. This is what you're fighting over: a device to rejuvenate a planet's ecosystem. It's nothing mystical; it's from a laboratory, not some Creator."
But tell me, Who created the scientists who invented it?
"It's a bubble of gases," Dad continued, "a cocktail of stuff for accelerated evolution. Methane, hydrogen, amino acids, proteins, nucleic acids. It's used to make barren planets habitable. Look around you! It's not for killing, it's bringing life!" He lowered his voice to an almost reverent pitch. "If you allow it, it can lift you out of these dark tunnels, and into the bright, bright sunlight."
He seemed a little overcome by the beauty of it, and so was I. I didn't care anymore if the Source was the Breath of God or the creation of mere mortals—if it could do what Dad said it could, did it matter? Was there even a difference?
"No more fighting. No more killing," Dad half-whispered. He took the Source from its pedestal and held it high. "I am The Doctor," he proclaimed, "and I declare this war is over!" And with a mighty heave, he smashed the orb on the ground.
Shining tendrils of green and yellow floated up and out, and the room filled with the smell of fertile earth and new growth. I breathed deep of it, savoring it.
I was almost too taken with it to notice the rapture on the faces of the Hath and Human troops, but there was no missing the clattering noise as they all laid down their weapons.
All but one…
I went to my father. I wanted to hug him, but I was so much in awe of him that I didn't dare touch him. "What's happening?" I breathed.
He looked up at the swirling light. "The gases will escape and trigger the terraforming process." Ever the scientist, my Dad.
"What does that mean?"
He smiled at me, and for the first time, I could see real warmth in his eyes. "It means a new world."
I laughed for the sheer delight of it. Not only for the bright, beautiful, peaceful world Messaline would become, but for the look on his face as he gazed at me. I had become more to him than a "biological accident;" he finally saw me as his daughter. We were going to be a family.
He loved me.
And it was because I loved him that I stepped into Cobb's bullet.
For all he was a brilliant Soldier, my Dad could be foolishly optimistic. He'd turned his back only the only man in the room who was still armed. He didn't see it coming.
So I provided cover. At this distance, the bullet wouldn't have the energy to tear all the way through a Human body, and thus I became his shield.
The bullet, intended for Dad's heart, hit me high on the chest, puncturing a lung. Well, at the time, I was only aware of a sensation of impact, and then struggling to breathe. Dad caught me as I fell, and the pain burned through the shock as he cradled me in his arms. His desperate voice floated through a dizzy haze, and I latched onto it. "Jenny? Jenny. Talk to me, Jenny!"
I looked into his eyes, and the pain there was too much. I turned my eyes instead to the gases that still glowed overhead. "A new world," I reminded him. Please remember that, Dad. Look at the good you've done, and remember it! "It's beautiful."
But he wouldn't be distracted. "Jenny, be strong now," he said, and I could hear the tears he was holding back. Don't cry for me, Dad. "You need to hold on, do you hear me?" There he was, the proper parent. It was strangely comforting to hear.
"We've got things to do, you and me, eh? Eh?" he continued. Don't do this, Dad, I wanted to plead, but I didn't have the strength. I was fading fast. "We can go anywhere. Everywhere. You choose."
What a wonderful dream. "Sounds good," I managed. I tried to smile, for his sake. The look on his face was pure agony.
"You're my daughter, and we've only just got started. You're gonna be great," he insisted, both of us struggling not to cry. "You're gonna be more than great… you're gonna be amazing! You hear me? Jenny?"
But I was beyond responding. I could only pray he would be all right as his anguished face faded away and everything went black.
Because bullets can still find you in the dark.