Everything Ends

by Amy L. Hull

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Spoilers: Big Finish Sarah Jane Audios through "Dreamland"

Notes: Written for zephyrprince in the Yuletide 2011 Challenge. Partner story with "Everything Ends". Thanks to Merlin Missy, TemperTemper, and Cybertardis for betas.

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To: nredfern at dreamlandspace . org

From: sjsmith at britmail . net

Date: 11 November 2004

Dear Nat,

How's your new job going? There's no one better with computers, and after our experience, I'd venture to say you know more about space flight than most! The project is lucky to have you. I can even email easily now...and from my mobile no less! Of course, I had the best teacher ever.

I can't believe it's been over a month since I saw you. So much has happened. You would love Malaysia. It is utterly beautiful. Krakatoa itself is extraordinary. Fully two-thirds of the island was destroyed in the eruption of 1883 and tens of thousands of people died. It's too horrific to imagine.

The research team here has been incredibly welcoming and the crystal they wanted to show me is fascinating. It glows and warms to the touch and I could swear there is life there. They're going to let me take it back to England. I have a feeling this is something that is going to be very important...something that will change things.

I feel ridiculous saying this, but this work feels...right somehow. I'm doing what I was meant to. The Doctor would do this if he were here. Speaking of, could you do some research into the website I've attached? There's a fellow called Clive who has a page about the Doctor-not one of the faces I've met, but, well, that's the Doctor-that has the TARDIS-that's the blue box-and a picture of the Doctor here at Krakatoa the day before the eruption.

This seems a fitting email on Remembrance Day, doesn't it? Take care of yourself.

Yours,

Sarah

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To: sjsmith at britmail . net

From: nredfern at dreamlandspace . org

Date: 11 November 2004

Sarah,

It's about time you learned to email from your cell. See how American I'm getting? "Cell" rather than "mobile"? Pat keeps ribbing me about that one. I think it's turnabout for me poking fun at "American football" though. He's a dear, and so very good to me. We laugh all the time, and I adore his family.

I really think I'm going to have better luck getting involved in archaeological research here than in England. The U.S. is far more inclusive for people who use wheelchairs. I'd heard about the ADA, but, wow, the accessibility here is beyond anything I could've imagined.

I can't stop thinking about things, and I'm wondering if maybe Giuliano meant "the Herald" was exactly what the word literally means: leader. Maybe Giuliano was just referring to the fact that Mandragora would return and you would be there. And, knowing you, perhaps he thought it was reasonable that you would lead the fight against the Helix.

There are quite a great deal fewer UFO nutters hovering outside the gates of Dreamland lately, and there have been jokes about a naked man falling out of the sky. Ridiculous, really, but my instincts say there's something afoot. Pat keeps cluck-clucking (oh, how he hates that term) and telling me not to look a gift horse in the mouth. Anyway, my days of investigating are over now, right? Well, unless it's at one of the local digs.

I looked into Clive, but he seems like he's on the order of the folks who natter on here about Roswell and insist we're keeping secrets about UFOs and alien intelligences. Of course, I guess I shouldn't dismiss them too quickly, as we actually are keeping those secrets! Anyway, it looks like Clive might have some information, but he's missing so many of the pieces that he's neither a threat nor a potential ally. Too bad, that second.

All you talked about was the island and your work. How are you, Sarah? Have you heard from Josh? I haven't heard a word since he left after Mandragora was defeated. I'm worried about him. And you. Please don't stay alone too long, okay?

Nat, still a Star

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To: nredfern at dreamlandspace . org

From: sjsmith at britmail . net

Date: 30 November 2004

Dearest Nat,

It's been weeks again. I'm back in England and settling into my new house. Can you believe that? Me, with a mortgage? I'm in a lovely and huge house in Ealing...plenty of space, though it's mostly vertical. I'd not even be able to show off Mr. Smith to you if you were here. At any rate, it's a quiet neighbourhood. Easy to keep to myself, which is best given, well, you know.

You are a star, as always. Your programs to monitor local activity are working brilliantly. They're keeping track of, well, you know. :-) (Look...I learnt that "smiley" thing you keep going on about.)

There's an odd report of activity in Sedona, Arizona. That's near you, isn't it? If it's near enough, could you have a run down with Pat and check out tales of a group of folks who sound like your "UFO nutters" who are following a fellow calling himself Frodo. Can you believe it? Like he's straight out of Lord of the Rings or something. I suppose it was inevitable with the movies having just come out but really, you'd think at least some of these fringe groups would be more subtle!

Is American Christmas as pervasive as the movies make it look? And is that good or bad? Oh, Nat, you do sound happy. Happier, even, than when you were in Italy. I am so thrilled for you.

Yours,

Sarah

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To: sjsmith at britmail . net

From: nredfern at dreamlandspace . org

Date: 5 December 2004

Dear Sarah,

Sorry it's taken me so long to get back to you (though I suppose I'm still nothing like as bad as you are!). I was researching that Frodo bloke. Turns out he's actually calling himself "Frode," Norwegian from the Old Norse "Fróði", meaning "learned or wise" (and, yes, it's where Tolkien got it, too).

I can't find a single internet reference that's from anyone but his "faithful followers". Some of them do seem to have links to the UFO nutters, but the hints I've found indicate that they're more like a doomsday cult. If I could find any details, I'd be more inclined to say they're disturbingly like the Orbus Postremo, and there are no coincidences. But as it is, they're more of a cipher.

And, yes, I'm Very Proud of your internet skills. You've mastered the smiley and it's not quite 2005. You're brilliant, you are.

Now, you must tell me all about this tall house of yours. I thought there were "better things to do with Aunt Lavinia's money than pay a mortgage"? But even more significantly, who is this Mr. Smith? Has someone finally won the heart of intrepid reporter Sarah Jane Smith? Inquiring minds and all that.

Meeting Pat for dinner. Must dash.

Ta,

Nat

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To: nredfern at dreamlandspace . org

From: sjsmith at britmail . net

Date: 11 January 2005

Dear Nat,

Mr. Smith is no beau. He's...well, I'm going to have to call your mobile to tell you about him. Remember that crystal from Krakatoa? It's so very much more now, if you catch my drift. And Aunt Lavinia's money is still going to the important things. That's why I've gone back to work. No more Metropolitan or Planet 3, just me, freelancing again, minding after various odd stories.

There have been a few visitors I've managed to keep away from those trigger-happy idiots in Cardiff and at Canary Wharf and even UNIT. I don't suppose I know anyone in the organisation anymore, but it was a disappointment to see how little they resemble the UNIT I once knew.

Hope you are well,

Sarah

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To: sjsmith at britmail . net

From: nredfern at dreamlandspace . org

Date: 15 January 2005

Sarah,

What kind of update was that? I suppose you're trying to stay cryptic enough to avoid detection, but you've got keywords in there that are going to go up like red flags. Keep an eye out for a package from me, okay?

Nat

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To: nredfern at dreamlandspace . org

From: sjsmith at britmail . net

Date: 8 April 2005

Dear Nat,

With Mr. Smith's help, I've installed your encryption program on all the communications devices I use. He made some comment about "lower life forms" and "amateurish code", but he incorporated your work into his protocols. That's Mr. Smith for you. In any case, this is encrypted, so I can tell you more about what's going on here.

You couldn't have been more right. I was investigating last month's alien attack-did you hear? homicidal shop-front dummies come to life?-and I barely managed to avoid being an "honoured guest" of Yvonne Hartman and her lackeys. I've heard here and about that Mike Yates from my UNIT days works for them now, and I caught a glimpse of someone who resembled him, so I circled 'round and watched them. They dress like extras from that "Men in Black" movie you liked so much, quite like the American Secret Service with their ear radios. There's not a subtle thing about them. Bloody Torchwood.

That's my exciting times. I'm off to Dartmoor. There's been a series of fairy rings and fairy lights. Oftentimes that indicates lost Mycelumars are about. I'm looking forward to a few days in the West Country. The local teas and scones are to die for. Tell me what's up with you, Nat. Any luck with getting into any of the local digs? Things still going smoothly with Pat? You haven't heard from Josh by chance, have you?

Yours,

Sarah

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To: sjsmith at britmail . net

From: nredfern at dreamlandspace . org

Date: 21 June 2005

Dear Sarah,

Is it really wise for you to cast stones at someone for not being subtle? Hmm? *grin*

Homicidal shop-front dummies? Seriously? That sounds like something out of a bad 50s B-movie. We didn't hear a word this side of the pond, but, then, if it's not happening in America or to Americans, the news seems not to care in the least.

It's been a whirlwind here. Work, a dig on weekends, Pat is still a doll, nothing from Josh. Did your fairy ring lead pan out? Will write soon. You should too!

Kisses,

Nat

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To: sjsmith at britmail . net

From: nredfern at dreamlandspace . org

Date: 1 August 2005

Sarah,

You can't possibly be angry at me over one late email. I'm sure you're busy, but I've not heard from you in an age, so I'm wondering if you're all right. Please check in.

Nat

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To: sjsmith at britmail . net

From: nredfern at dreamlandspace . org

Date: 15 August 2005

Sarah,

If you don't write soon, I shall send someone round to check on you!

Nat

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To: nredfern at dreamlandspace . org

From: sjsmith at britmail . net

Date: 18 August 2005

Dear Nat,

I'm so sorry to have worried you. I was up in the Shetland Islands for a couple of months. There was a huge undertaking, very hush-hush, but I think there were over four hundred Storeggans we were able to help reintegrate into the Shetland communities with hardly any notice. And those that did notice didn't care. I'm just glad they've managed to escape the notice of the various groups now trying to lay claim to anything unearthly. Not all of our visitors are trying to invade! Of course, it's not a coincidence that all the domesticated Shetland animals are in miniature. A typical Storegga barely stands five feet!

Of course, to justify the stay, I did almost endless interviews: the effects of the summer dim (it really never did get properly dark the whole time!), traditional fiddling, storytellers, use of Shetlandic, the wheelhouse of Jarlshof (that was brilliant to visit), oil economy, historic lighthouses, and, of course, sheep, miniature animals, and more sheep. Lionel Carson is at the Daily Mail and he's keen for anything I've written. He always did have a crush on me-it's flattering and discomfiting. I have hours of tape to transcribe.

I've not heard a whisper from Josh. I admit, it's beginning to worry me. I hope the dig has been exciting. You sound exhausted. Do update me on your life.

Yours,

Sarah

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To: sjsmith at britmail . net

From: nredfern at dreamlandspace . org

Date: 20 August 2005

Dear Sarah,

Thank God you're all right.

My latest news is rather exciting. Pat has asked me to marry him. I've said yes, and we'll be married next June here in America. Oh, Sarah, do say you'll be able to come.

Hopefully,

Nat

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To: nredfern at dreamlandspace . org

From: sjsmith at britmail . net

Date: 20 August 2005

Dear Nat,

Married! Congratulations! That's fantastic news! And of course I'll be there. Just send the dates.

Suspicious activity in Croydon, of all places. Possibly unfriendly. Must hurry.

Yours,

Sarah

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To: sjsmith at britmail . net

From: nredfern at dreamlandspace . org

Date: 24 December 2005

Dear Sarah,

Happy Christmas!

Love,

Nat

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To: nredfern at dreamlandspace . org

From: sjsmith at britmail . net

Date: 25 December 2005

Dear Nat,

Happy Christmas to you, too. I hope the New Year is as joyous as you expect!

Love,

Sarah

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To: sjsmith at britmail . net

From: nredfern at dreamlandspace . org

Date: 15 March 2006

Dear Sarah,

I have what may be terrible news.

I still haven't heard from Josh, but I've been keeping track of that Frode-Doomsday-Cult group. And, no, I did not "have a quick drive down to Sedona", and it's not "near me". Yes, Nevada borders Arizona, but it's an eight-hour drive to get past Flagstaff. It's farther than going from London all the way up to Edinburgh! Really, Sarah!

In any case, everything I've been able to find out about the group sounds like they're pretty innocuous. Months of monitoring has turned up nothing more than meetings. This past week, the references have included the word "mandragora" and I'm afraid now it's the Orbus Postremo all over again.

The terrible part is that I have a grainy image that is ostensibly of Frode himself.

Sarah, I don't believe in coincidences any more than you...and it looks like Josh!

You said that you were worried about him, that after a lifetime of indoctrination, everything he believed could be shattered. What if defeating the Mandragora Helix just reaffirmed his beliefs?

Very worried,

Nat

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To: nredfern at dreamlandspace . org

From: sjsmith at britmail . net

Date: 8 July 2006

Dear Nat,

The wedding was simply gorgeous. Thank you so much. And to have me walk you down the aisle...I couldn't have been more honoured. You look so happy, and I couldn't be more pleased for you, Nat.

I didn't tell you in case you worried, but after the wedding, I rented a car and drove down to Sedona. (You were right...it was nearly like driving all the way up to Aberdeen!) It didn't take much investigating to find where the meetings were. They call themselves the Defensores Futurum...Defenders of the Future. Josh took the name Frode because it means learned, while Giuliano means youth. He says we know so much more now that the Orbus Postremo could have understood. Mandragora will be back, probably in another 500 years, and he wants to make sure that there are people preparing to combat the Helix.

He's right, you know. Only religious fanatics will pass down and believe unsubstantiated information for 500 years.

He said we need to keep our distance so his...followers...aren't distracted. God, Nat. How is this where we ended up? I'm going to miss him. I miss you.

Sarah

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To: sjsmith at britmail . net

From: nredfern at dreamlandspace . org

Date: 25 December 2006

Sarah,

I'm sure you know what just happened, and you'd better explain it. I am so angry. I thought this was over.

We just spent our first Christmas married with Pat standing on a rooftop about to jump. Sarah, I couldn't even get up there to be with him or try to pull him back!

There was some vague mention of a "misidentified experimental aircraft" over London, but I know that's bollocks.

Nat

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To: nredfern at dreamlandspace . org

From: sjsmith at britmail . net

Date: 26 December 2006

Dear Nat,

I'm so sorry to hear Pat was one of those affected. You're right about the news stories. They were a complete fiction. There was a great big spaceship right overhead. It was like you see in movies: half of London was dark.

From what Mr. Smith was able to find, the aliens were the "Sycorax"-like from The Tempest-and they apparently hypnotised everyone with A+ blood. It is perhaps of some relief that they could not have got anyone to jump; they could only scare people. Their interference doesn't seem to have any lasting effects. That certainly doesn't make the fear from Christmas Day any less.

Oh, Nat. You went so far...going toward jobs and love, but also going away from the madness that seems to follow me...and it found you anyway. Sometimes I fear the same taint that follows me affects anyone around me.

The Sycorax were shot down by Yvonne's people. Harriet Jones ordered it. I wish I could object, but this time, I have to see Torchwood's point of view: in an invasion on this scale, there is no one else to protect the Earth. I certainly couldn't do it and I do hope they gave the Sycorax fair warning. The Doctor, well, I imagined him up there, on that great spaceship, but he's not here either.

Take care, Nat.

Yours,

Sarah

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To: sjsmith at britmail . net

From: nredfern at dreamlandspace . org

Date: 5 January 2007

Sarah,

Thanks for the extra information. Glad to hear it wasn't as bad as it seemed. Still..."may you live in interesting times" is definitely a curse of sorts.

Pat is fine. As you said, no ill effects. I've been putting in long weekend hours on a local dig and we are finding out the most fascinating things about some of the early settlers near Groom Lake. The adaptations the team have made to let me into the dig site itself are amazing; I'd never have found a team willing to go the extra mile and arrange for me to work the site itself. I'd long ago resigned myself to working the artefacts back at the review tent. The site leader has been so impressed with my work I think I may even be brought on full time.

I miss you and Josh, sorry, Frode, but I don't miss the danger-especially not since it is still finding me-and I don't miss the uncertainty. I like this settled-down life I have here.

All our best to you,

Love,

Nat

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To: nredfern at dreamlandspace . org

From: sjsmith at britmail . net

Date: 1 March 2007

Dear Nat,

I'm glad you're doing well. I wish we could keep better track of Josh. I can't bring myself to call him Frode.

We always say there are no coincidences, but I've just guided a Verron soothsayer home and was given a warp star for "the end of days"...could that sound more like the Orbus Postremo? It was rather unsettling.

The only new thing here is that a London school is suddenly getting record test results...and that just after half the staff were replaced. Odd, that. Odd enough to take a look.

Wish me luck. Talk to you soon,

Sarah

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To: nredfern at dreamlandspace . org

From: sjsmith at britmail . net

Date: 17 March 2007

Dear Nat,

You'll never believe it.

I saw him again! The Doctor!

He has a new face. Again. And I was right. He was on that great huge spaceship on Christmas Day. In fact, he's the one who broke the hypnotic link and freed Pat and all those people.

This time they were bat people. Bat people taking over a school to use children as a computer. It was chilling.

He has new people he travels with, and I felt so forgotten, but at the same time it felt just like old times.

Everything about it-then, now...all of it-is utterly mad. Even more mad...he asked me to come with him again...and I said no. What was I thinking? I could have had all that again. The stars, the travel. I feel so old. But being part of it, running with the Doctor...I've never felt so alive, ever.

No one else can ever know what it's like, these adventures, can they. I think I know why you stayed in the United States, though. It's like I told the Doctor: everything has its time, and everything ends. We had a good run, you, me, and Josh, didn't we? I guess its time passed with the end of the threat of Mandragora. After all, Josh met me in order to watch over me, and now the reason for that is over for 500 years. That threat has ended too.

Do try to keep in touch, Nat. Our time as a team may be over, but just like with the Doctor, our friendship isn't, and when we see each other again, every time it's like no time has passed.

My best always,

Sarah

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~end~ Previous story in sequence: "The Curse of Mandragora".

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