A/N: This is the last chapter of this story, but I plan on continuing the storyline (don't worry, they're not done yet) in a later instalment. Be on the lookout!


Chapter 9

Gears

"What did you do to her?" Rose demanded of the darkness.

The answering voice seemed to come from the walls themselves. "I've been watching you scamper around my tower. You silly humans are so childish! You think that just because you don't see us, we can't see you. I chose your pretty little friend when she came in. So much energy, even as an adult." A door opened across the room. "Come and see my engine."

The "engine" was a room occupied by a huge metal gear. It hung horizontally from the ceiling and turned ever so slowly, ticking loudly as it went. In each of its teeth was a small cot.

A small man with a pale, bluish complexion appeared. "Human children," he explained. "They're so full of life! So much excess energy!"

"What are you doing to them?" demanded the Doctor. Rose could see the Oncoming Storm in his eyes, his face, his stance.

"I am simply taking care of them. I give them nice food, fun toys, and then I harvest their energy: their play, their laughter, their dreaming. My machine will use it to convert the entire human population."

"You're going to convert the human race into children? What for?"

"Surely you must know how impressionable children are. I will convert all the world to children and train them in a higher way, a way to conquer the stars."

"You're going to brainwash an army of six billion children," Rose summarised, horrified.

"Oh, she's good. Maybe I'll keep her on as a nanny, shall I?" He fixed his sadistic smile on the Doctor, whose eyes darkened. Rose could practically hear him thinking. "Yes, I am. And it begins with these, my shining Vanguard: twenty-five model humans for the others to follow."

"Where are they?"

"It's the middle of the night. They are where all good children should be: in bed. Dreaming isn't as efficient a form of energy as play or laughter, but it suffices." Something beeped angrily: the unmistakable sound of an alarm.

"Something wrong?" asked the Doctor. Rose stayed close to him as he talked, knowing he had control of the situation now. "Because I think your machine might be overloading."

"That's impossible!" he cried. "It is calibrated perfectly! Junior! Junior?"

"Oh, I think he must have gotten snatched away, just like your secretaries. Snatched away into the future."

"Human children cannot overload my system!"

"No, not human children." The Doctor clasped his hands behind his back. "'Morton and Sons.' Tell me, Morton, what happened to your other son?"

Morton looked at the Doctor and his eyes widened.

"You locked him up, didn't you? You thought he was mad, so you locked him in a grain silo in the middle of a field way out in the country where nobody would ever find him."

"How do you know this?"

"I found his message inside the silo where you left him. A message in English, written in Barrian script." The beeping grew more insistent and the tempo of the ticking increased. While Morton frantically tried to fix things, the Doctor turned to Rose. "Rose, get the children out of here." He turned back to Morton as Rose ducked out of sight and started taking children into the other room. "You should have listened to your son, Morton. 'Beware the twenty-fifth,' he said. I know you lot haven't had much interaction with Time Lords, so I'll give you the answers and not the quiz. You see, very young Time Lords don't dream like human children; they dream of the Time Vortex. Normally, it's not harmful—it just stays in their little Time Lord minds—but you're harvesting her dreams. Your machine is feeding on the Time Vortex, and it's going into overload. It's going to go critical in a few minutes, and everything in this room will be sucked out of existence and transported, oh, a few billion years into the future, or maybe the past." He levelled his sonic screwdriver at the nearby fuse box. It opened and he started tinkering around inside. Things snapped and clicked, and a minute later, the cots levitated out of the gear and onto the floor.

"Doctor, I'm not going to be able to wake them up in time," Rose said. "It's going to take me twenty minutes to get them all out of here."

"We've got two." He sonicced the box again, and the cots hovered an inch off the ground. "The excess energy is keeping the cots up. Just get the cots through the door." He pushed the cots toward her, all except one. "Go, Rose!"

The second Rose was out the door, the Doctor slammed it shut and picked up the child in the cot at his feet. Morton took notice then. "Yes! Take her out! Wake her! My machine will not explode and we will all live!"

"I told you to stop, Morton, but you didn't listen. Next time, remember this: the little girl who dreams of the Time Vortex will find you. Nowhere in space or time is safe." He pointed the screwdriver at the fuse box, pressed a button, and ducked through the door, carrying the still-sleeping toddler.


Rose was frantically trying to get someone, anyone, to come out to Morton & Sons to help sort the mess, but it was the middle of the night, and only Jake and Ivan were still in the Tower.

"Jake and Ivan can't leave the Tower while we're still on the field. They've been calling round but nobody's picking up."

He pushed the com button on his earpiece. "Jake?"

"Yeah, Doc?"

"Will you call the parents of the twenty-four missing children? Tell them they can come to Morton & Sons and pick up their kids from day care now."

"You found them?" Ivan exclaimed. "Are they all right?"

"We found them. They're fine. They're just going to want mummy and daddy when they start waking up."

As if on cue, a couple of the toddlers started to wake. Cranky children—and shortly afterward, panicking parents—forestalled any conversation between Rose and the Doctor. Getting the children sorted was a bit difficult, and Rose had to rely on physical descriptions from Ivan to match children to names, and to parents. By about two in the morning, there was just one little girl left.

"Doctor," Rose interrupted, "what about her?" She pointed to the cot he'd set at his feet.

"Well, she's an orphan."

"But who is she?"

He crouched down to see the little girl better. "Morton didn't kill Jenny," he said. "He needed one last child for his machine to work at full capacity, so he converted her."

"They zapped her into a little kid?"

"Yeah."

"Can you reverse it?"

"No. Morton's machine is gone, and I don't have the TARDIS."

"So what are you going to do with her?"

He shrugged. "She's a Time Lord. Nobody in this universe knows how to raise a Time Lord, except me."

"You're going to raise a baby all on your own?" Rose asked.

"She has to be kept safe."

Rose nodded. "When we were in London for the 2012 Olympics, you were building that thing to track down the Isolus pod, and you told me you were a dad once."

"Y-yeah. Yeah, I was."

"But that was before Jenny."

"Yeah. On Gallifrey."

Rose shook her head and bit her lip to keep from crying for him. "Were they there when you... when the Time War ended?"

He only nodded.

Rose sat next to him on the floor. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to—"

"It's fine, Rose. It was a long time ago."

"It's not fine," Rose corrected him. "But it will be. You've got her now. What are you going to call her?"

"I don't know. What do you think?"

"You're the Time Lord."

"I think I'll still call her Jenny. I don't think I could change it now, even if I wanted to. Might change her official name to something a bit more dignified."

"Like what?"

"Jennifer, Genevieve, Geneva..."

"Don't name her Geneva. She'll be teased!"

"Teased? Of course she won't! Why would she be teased for that?"

"The Geneva Convention...?"

"Oh, come on. Who really knows all that much about the Geneva Convention anyway?"

"It's way more important in this world! Kids learn it first year here. Everyone knows the Geneva Convention."

"Everyone except you, you mean."

"Well, even I know a lot about it now, since I did my A-levels here. I'm just saying Geneva isn't the best name. I don't think it makes much of a difference. She'll still be called Jenny."

"Maybe Genevieve, then." As if on cue, the little blond toddler woke, sobbing, her gold-flecked eyes searching for a familiar face. The Doctor took her little hand. "Shh... it's okay. It's gone now. It's only when you're dreaming. You don't have to be afraid of it; it can't hurt you." She continued to cry.

Rose shook her head and lifted the crying child out of the cot. "Shh, hey, it's alright, love. It's just a dream, yeah? You're awake now, and—" Rose turned so Jenny could see the Doctor "—there's your daddy."

The Doctor said something Rose couldn't understand; it sounded almost like a song. Jenny quieted, then reached a hand for him. "That's it..." He took her from Rose and held her close. She looked up at him while he kept talking in that strange melodic language.

He made a strangely strangled noise in his throat and stopped speaking.

"Doctor?"

"I can see them all in her," he said thickly. "They were little just like that. I remember it, every time, looking down into the cot and seeing the flecks of gold that marked their first dream. And then seven years later, sending them away. Eight years... I only got eight years with them." He sniffed, and Rose put a hand over his.

"You'll have all the time in the world with her."

He sniffed again and got to his feet. "Come on. I think we need to go home. All of us."

"Yeah. This place is weird," Rose said. "So is it going to go back to normal? I mean, what happens to the secretaries?"

"Androids. They'll stop working eventually. Morton's machine had so much excess energy that it kept them going and still had enough to need to shift them every hour."

"The floors... they were numbered like a clock."

"Morton must have had it built that way. You have to admit, it was pretty impressive." Rose shut the doors behind them and the Doctor locked them with a flick of his screwdriver.

On the ground floor, Rose stopped, staring at the center wall. "Doctor, wasn't that wall on the other side of the room when we came in?"

"Probably. The wall rotates like the minute hand of a clock. Another reason to have android secretaries; a machine won't question a moving wall." He held the door open for her, and locked it tightly behind them. "The perception filter is gone, too, now that the engine's gone. Everyone will go back to their happy, normal, alien-free lives."

"Everyone except us," Rose commented, unlocking the jeep and climbing into the driver's seat. "Me with my alien liaising job, and you with your alien toddler."

"And my alien technology." He slid into the cab, holding Jenny tightly to him. "Don't drive too fast. We haven't got a child seat in this car, so I'll have to hold her."

"Don't worry. Do you want me to drop you at your place before I go back to the Arsenal? It's not far out of the way."

"If you like." He was too preoccupied with the small child in his arms, with her blond hair and her green eyes and her sleepy little smile.

"How old d'you think she is?" Rose asked. "I mean, she can't be more'n two."

The Doctor pulled out his screwdriver and scanned Jenny. "She's somewhere around three years old."

"She can't be. She's so small!"

"She's Gallifreyan. She'll always look a lot younger than she is."

"Will she regenerate?"

"I don't know." Jenny had fallen asleep again, and Rose thought she looked like a little angel with her white gown and her blond hair. "She's not even entirely Gallifreyan. She wasn't born on Gallifrey."

"Will she be a... what d'you call it? A Time Lady?"

"No... she won't ever have the chance to look into the Untempered Schism. She won't have the training."

"But she's got two hearts, just like yo—he's got."

"I don't know what she'll be. I don't really even know what she is now. I'll just have to figure it out as I go."

Rose parked in front of his building and shut off the jeep. "Are you going to be okay with her by yourself?"

"Rose, I know what I'm doing."

"Do you want me to come by in the morning?"

"I'm fine."

"Don't you want your civ clothes?"

"Oh. Right."

"I'll bring them by sometime tomorrow, yeah?"

"Sure." He swung out of the jeep, holding Jenny tightly to him.

"Give me a ring if you need anything," she called after him.

"I will," he answered. She watched him disappear into the building, then started the jeep and went to the Arsenal to drop it off. She collapsed with exhaustion on the couch in her office, too tired to go back to her flat.