Fate of the Earth
Rose Tyler wondered sometimes if she had done the right thing by leaving everything she knew behind in order to travel with the Doctor. This was one of those times. She tugged on the back of his jacket as they exited the TARDIS and continued a one-sided conversation they had started moments before landing... wherever and whenever they were.
"Really, Doctor? Just march out here? With no idea of what's waiting for us? There could be an army of Daleks just over that hill for all you know. You didn't even check if we could breath the air."
The Doctor turned to her and grinned. Just like a little boy, thought Rose. How could someone over 900 years old, and the last surviving member of an ancient race, behave like that? She shook her head. If he was going to go to the trouble to regenerate, and take on a new appearance and personality, at least he could have added some maturity to the mix.
"Where would be the fun in that?" replied the Doctor. "Something brought us here. An enormous time wave. Whatever's behind it is very powerful. And very interesting."
They had been on their way to Dolcifina, a planet where waterfalls fell up rather than down. Instead, after encountering the time wave, the TARDIS had materialized here, near a stream, surrounded by gentle, grassy hills. The sky was a clear blue, very Earth-like. The light breeze was fragrant and warm. An almost ideal summer day. The sun, however, was not at all Earth-like. More orange than yellow, it covered much of the visible sky.
Climbing one of the hills, the Doctor continued, "And anyway, you know the TARDIS wouldn't let us out the door if conditions were dangerous. Mind you, I once stepped out only to be gunned down. But that was a long time ago."
Comforting, thought Rose.
In a few minutes they came to the crest of the hill. "Well now," the Doctor said, "this looks peaceful enough. Nothing but meadows and forest and rivers."
"The sun, it's so huge."
"Yes, it's very old, near the end of its lifetime I should think."
Rose glanced down and noticed her shadow. Its size and direction told her that it wasn't cast by the sun. Turning behind them, she gaped then tapped the Doctor's shoulder. "Um, Doctor, perhaps you should have a look over this way."
The Doctor turned and blinked. "Blimey. Now that's something you don't see every day."
Towering over the neighbouring hill, tall, teardrop-shaped ships, supported by scaffolding, filled the landscape as far as the eye could see. The ships, whose hulls were made up of some type of silvery metallic material, were nearly perfect mirrors. The reflected sunlight was nearly blinding.
"Come on then," called the Doctor. Setting off at a run, he dashed down the hill they had just climbed, past the TARDIS, over the stream, and up again. He and Rose were breathing heavily as they crested the hill. Pausing to catch their breath, they felt a tremor in the ground. And then the ships were gone. Rose turned to the Doctor in confusion. The Doctor craned his neck and looked up, but there was only the sky.
"Where did they go? They just vanished."
"They've gone. Up there. Inertialess drives, so they reach their maximum speed instantly. They could be light years away already."
"Well then," shrugged Rose, "I guess we're too late, aren't we?"
"No, I shouldn't think so," said the Doctor. "Those ships didn't cause the time wave. Whatever it was is still here. We just have to..."
"Just have to... what, Doctor?"
"Sorry, just had a thought. Not so much a thought really, as a feeling. Something's not right. But I'm not sure what. At any rate, we just have to find who's left here and we'll likely find what we're looking for."
Rose looked over her shoulder and said, "Or maybe they'll find us."
A transport, a grey, rectangular craft about 20 metres long, had stopped beside them. A door seemed to melt through the hull and a man, middle aged, muscular, exited the vehicle and approached them. He was wearing loose fitting tan trousers and a slightly darker shirt that hung loosely about his hips.
"What are you two doing here?"
"Oh, you know," the Doctor replied lightly, "fresh air, taking in the sights."
"Really, said the man. "You know it's not safe to be out here. Come on, we'll take you back with us."
"Do you mind if we don't?" asked the Doctor.
The man shrugged. "Suit yourself, but unless you get back quickly, you won't survive the transition."
"Ah yes," the Doctor replied. "The transition. We must have lost track of time. Perhaps we'll tag along with you if you don't mind." Taking Rose's hand he led her into the vehicle.
"And what's the transition?" whispered Rose?
The Doctor grinned. "Let's find out, shall we?"
After seating themselves, the man introduced himself as Kevil. He introduced the other passenger as Danlyn, and the Doctor and Rose introduced themselves. After they were seated, the craft lifted off a few feet from the ground and skimmed the surface towards a range of mountains.
The Doctor leaned forward and asked, "So, where is it we're off to again?"
Kevil turned in his chair with a puzzled expression. "The Citadel, of course. Are you two off-worlders or something?"
"Yes, something like that," the Doctor replied. And under his breath, he muttered, "Citadel. Interesting choice of names, that."
"I don't know how you got here then. Earth has been designated off limits for weeks."
The Doctor's face went blank. "Earth," he said weakly. "This is Earth?"
"Doctor, what is it?" asked Rose. "You look like you've seen a ghost."
"Oh Rose, you were right. You were so right."
Leaning forward again, the Doctor addressed Kevil, "Look, if it wouldn't be too much bother, could you take us back where you found us? I'm afraid there's been a bit of a mistake."
"The only mistake," Kevil replied, "would be to leave you back there. You'd get lost in the dark and you'd never survive. We're almost at the Citadel. You can get things sorted there."
"In the dark?" Rose wondered out loud. "It's broad daylight out there."
"Yes," said Kevil, "for now. It'll be dark soon, though. You know, in preparation for the transition. Then it can truly be said that a new dawn will arise."
Rose turned to the Doctor, but he just shook his head, letting her know that now wasn't the time for her questions. Sighing, she settled back in the chair and waited.
Before long the craft came to a stop just outside the walls of what seemed to be a large multi-tiered fortress in the midst of the mountains. Below them, a rectangular area of the ground seemed to evaporate. Through the window, Rose could see a tunnel leading deep into the Earth. Descending into the tunnel, they came to a stop after a few moments and disembarked.
It was hard to believe they were underground. It was a large, open area, as bright and airy as if they were still outdoors. Many other vehicles, some similar, some much larger, were scattered about.
A reception committee was waiting for them, two women and a man. The women were tall, almost as tall as Kevil. They were slim, but seemed fit and muscular. One was blond, like Rose, the other had nearly black hair. The man was head and shoulders taller than the women. All three were dressed in tan clothing. In fact, as Rose looked about, virtually everyone was dressed identically. The dark haired woman smiled at Kevil and said, "Picked some more strays, did you, Kevil? Lucky for them."
"Yes, they seem to be off-worlders, though how they got here I've no idea."
"Never mind, we'll get them sorted out. You should head over to prepare. It won't be much longer."
"Will do. Good luck to you, Doctor and Rose. I'll likely see you afterwards."
The Doctor raised an eyebrow and smiled faintly, then clapped his hands together and addressed the greeters.
"Right. As I mentioned to Kevil, this is all quite the misunderstanding. If you'll kindly loan us a vehicle, we'll just head off and won't be any bother."
"The blond woman replied. "Let's discuss that, shall we? There's a room just over here we can use."
The woman led the way. The other two greeters stood their ground until the Doctor and Rose followed her, then they took up the rear.
The room was about 10 feet by 20. The walls were white and lined with a kind of thin, transparent vinyl. In the middle of the room was a table, apparently made of the same transparent material that covered the walls, and some chairs.
"Have a seat," the blond woman suggested. The Doctor dropped into one the chairs, with his legs outstretched and hands stuffed in his suit jacket. Rose sat beside him.
"My name is Dryn," she continued. "This is Junn, and that's Mikyl." Dryn
Dryn added, "And you call yourselves Doctor and Rose, is that correct?"
The Doctor said nothing. Rose answered, "That's right."
Continuing, Dryn asked them, "And do you understand what's about to happen here?"
"I think I've got a pretty good idea," said the Doctor.
"Then why don't you explain it to me?" invited Dryn.
"Right," replied the Doctor. "Let's start with the sun. Suppose you show it to us on that monitor of yours."
Dryn turned to Mikyl and nodded. Mikyl rose and made some gestures on the wall nearest him. The white of the wall was then replaced by a view of the sun. It looked much the same as it had when they arrived, except, Rose noted, for a missing sliver, as if from an eclipse.
"So it's started," said the Doctor. Rising to his feet and pacing back and forth, he continued. "You've set up self-replicating energy transformers in orbit around the sun that will soon surround it completely. Extracting the sun's remaining energy, you'll set up a force field around the planet using a tribophysical waveform macro-kinetic extrapolator. You'll then send the entire planet into the time vortex, quite a feat by the way, to a location in space some tens of thousands of light years away, and billions of years into the past. Does that about cover it?"
For a moment, Dryn's face was blank. Then she turned to Junn and Mikyl and asked, "Would you leave us for a moment, please?"
The two looked at each other, nodded, and left the room.
Dryn folded her hands in front of her and addressed the Doctor. "It is well known that we are going to move the planet in space. Very few are aware that we will also move the planet in time. How did you obtain this information?"
"Ah," said the Doctor, scratching his head. "Well you know, people talk. You hear things."
"Take a seat again, would you, Doctor, please? We'll explore that further in a moment. If you knew we would travel in time as well as space, why did you come here? Why leave everything behind?"
The Doctor, without replying, simply returned Dryn's gaze. She continued.
"You weren't completely correct, as it turns out. We're not using the shield technology you mentioned. In fact, I'm not familiar with it. So part of whatever you heard, from whomever you heard it from, is incorrect."
"Not using it?" The Doctor sat up straight. "What type of shielding are you using?"
"A standard class four energy shield. All our simulations show that it will be sufficient to protect the planet."
The Doctor stood, donned his eyeglasses from his jacket pocket, and moved over beside Dryn. "Show me," he said.
Dryn smiled. "If you like. Do you think you'll understand our simulation equations? They're quite complex, you know."
"Just show me."
"Very well. Here." Dryn used her fingers to mark off a square area on the surface of the table. Virtual buttons and displays appeared. Manipulating the buttons, a series of equations appeared on the displays.
The Doctor scrolled through them, then straightened and stared into space for a moment. "How is this possible?" He ran his hand through his hair. "This happens. This is a fixed point in time. But it can't work, not like this."
"Doctor, what are you talking about," queried Dryn? "As I said, the equations have been checked and re-checked by our finest scientists. You haven't spent the time required to properly understand the simulation."
The Doctor looked at Dryn. Rose was puzzled by his expression, but then realized that he was conflicted. He knows what to do, she thought, but isn't sure he should do it.
"Your scientists are wrong," replied the Doctor, "and you're all going to die unless you let me help you."
"Nonsense," Dryn stammered. "No one's going to die. What do you mean?"
"Here, look." And the Doctor bent over the table and added new equations to the simulation. "You haven't accounted for temporal wave effects. Moving an entire planet through the vortex over such a distance in space and time will create huge temporal waves."
The display changed and showed a planet bouncing through a narrow, twisty corridor with flares of colour all about it. The Doctor continued. "When those waves reach their resonant frequency, your shields will be useless. The planet will be ripped to pieces." And on the simulation screen, they all watched as the planet shuddered and exploded.
Dryn turned ghostly pale. "But it's too late. It's all been set in motion. It can't be stopped. If we don't transition, the planet is doomed without a sun. If we proceed, the planet is torn apart."
The Doctor turned her chair towards him and looked her in the eye. "It's not too late. I can help. Take me to the shield generator complex. I can set up a proper force field that will ensure the planet survives."
She held his gaze for several seconds then rose to her feet. "Come with me. Quickly."
"There's just one thing," the Doctor added. "We'll need some equipment from my... vehicle. Let Rose go back to get it for me while we start the modifications."
"I'll have Kevil take you, Rose. A familiar face."
"Doctor," asked Rose, "how will I know what to fetch?"
The Doctor took Rose aside. Taking a small, silver disc from a pocket, he activated his sonic screwdriver, pointing it at the disc. "Take this program and insert it into the console. The TARDIS will get you what we need. And Rose, this is very important. Extremely important. Don't tell him anything about me. Not a word. We're travellers. Leave it at that. And don't bring him inside the TARDIS. Make sure he stays in his vehicle while you do this."
Rose winked at him. "You can count on me, Doctor."
"Oh Rose, I know I can," and they hugged. Turning to Dryn, he said, "Right, let's be off then."
Dryn commandeered a vehicle that whisked them to the shield generator. While in transit, she communicated her intentions to the staff and then spoke to the Doctor.
"We know that Rose is human, though she lacks standard biological re-engineering, so she's not from this world. You are not human, of course, though you appear so. Among the anomalies detected by our medical sensors are your two hearts. That physiology doesn't match any records in our databases. So where are you from, and where did you obtain your knowledge of the time vortex?"
"Yes, well, that's a long story. Let's focus on the problem at hand first, shall we?"
Dryn nodded and they continued in silence.
Kevil and Rose left the Citadel in the same vehicle in which they'd arrived.
"So where are you two from?" Kevil asked.
"Sorry, that's classified," Rose said.
"What does that mean?"
"It means, let's talk about you instead. What do you do around here?"
"Just like most of those who stayed, I've spent most of my life preparing for the transition. I'm a bio-engineer by training."
"And why didn't you leave with the others," Rose asked?
"Most people left, of course. Maybe they were the smart ones. But we believed that this world was worth saving, and came up with a fantastic way to do it. If it works. I suppose that's in doubt now."
"Don't worry, the Doctor will make it work."
"You have a lot of faith in him," Kevil observed.
"He's earned it," Rose replied. And he has, hasn't he, thought Rose. She shouldn't have doubted him earlier.
In a matter of minutes, they arrived at the spot where Kevil had first seen them. About one third of the sun was now eclipsed by the energy transformers.
"OK, so how far is your ship from here," Kevil asked?
"Pretty close, actually," Rose grinned. "It's just over this hill."
The craft continued until it reached the stream at the bottom of the valley.
"But there's nothing here. Nothing but that blue box..." Kevil looked at Rose. "No. You didn't arrive in that. Did you?"
"Just stay here," Rose said. 'I won't be long."
The shield generator complex was housed in a long, rectangular room. Along the length of one wall were racks of humming equipment. The opposite wall was white, coated with the same transparent interface material as the Doctor had seen in the interview room. This wall was devoted to displays and controls. About twenty people, a mix of men and women, were scattered about. As one, they turned their heads when Dryn and the Doctor entered.
Dryn called for the staff to attend. "This is the Doctor. Under my authority, he is going to modify the shield generator. You are to give him your full co-operation."
While she spoke, the Doctor began examining the equipment. He asked one of the staff, "How much time do we have before the sun's power is fully harnessed?"
"We have an hour. No more. We have to use that power immediately. There's far too much to store. If we don't, the transition will fail and the planet will perish, along with all of us."
"That won't happen," the Doctor said, and started to work.
Forty minutes had passed when Rose came running in with a small box containing the items from the TARDIS.
"Here it is," she gasped, out of breath. "Are we in time?"
"It's getting close," the Doctor replied, taking the box from Rose. Opening the cover he took the first item, a foot-long cylinder with several pulsing rings. This fit into a slot he had created in the re-engineered machinery. The other item was a black, six-inch cube which fit into an adjacent slot. Using his sonic screwdriver, the Doctor activated the two items then closed the outer panel.
Dryn and some of the staff were examining the changes to the equipment and shaking their heads. Turning to the Doctor, she said, "None of us understand this technology, Doctor. Are you sure it will work?"
"It will work," the Doctor said. "It's ready."
"Then let's go to the control centre. It's almost time."
Another transport allowed Dryn, the Doctor and Rose to reach the control centre a minute later. It was a circular area, some thirty feet in diameter, whose walls, like those in the shield generator complex, were covered with the transparent interface material. There was little furniture, just a couple of tables and a few chairs scattered about. There were about a dozen people milling about, examining displays and manipulating virtual buttons and keyboards.
Dryn joined one of the clusters of staff.
"The energy transformers are coming online," one of them reported. "The shield will be activated in ten seconds." After counting down, he continued, "The shield is active."
Dryn glanced at the Doctor and briefly nodded her head.
Another one of the staff, stationed adjacent to the first, reported. "Transition countdown started. Transition in sixty seconds."
"You might want to cover your ears, Rose," said the Doctor. "It's going to be loud despite the dampers in place around the Citadel."
"Transition in ten seconds. Five. Transition underway."
The ground beneath them shuddered, then Rose heard it. Of course, she thought. The whole planet is entering the time vortex, so it would have to sound like the TARDIS dematerializing, but magnified many times over.
The sound died down finally, and the announcement came: "We have successfully entered the time vortex."
There were loud cheers and Dryn smiled broadly. "Let's save the celebrations for later. Continue monitoring our status. I want regular reports."
"How long will it take, Doctor?" asked Rose.
"Minutes, really. We're going a long way in time and space, but the planet has tremendous momentum."
It may have been just minutes, but it seemed much longer to Rose. Finally, one of the staff reported.
"Beginning countdown to time vortex exit. Five minutes and counting."
It was the longest five minutes that Rose could remember. Then, finally, the countdown was finished and they began their emergence from the time vortex. Again came the familiar materialization sound, magnified several fold.
When it was quiet again, all eyes were on the external displays.
"We have emerged from the vortex and are in orbit around our new sun."
Now there were whoops of joy, hugs and handshakes. After celebrating with her staff, Dryn joined the Doctor and Rose. "I'd like to shake your hand, Doctor. We owe you our lives."
"Ah, my part was very small. What you've managed to achieve, that's amazing."
"Rose, I'd like you and the Doctor to join us. There's to be a ceremony in the Great Hall."
Dryn, the staff, and the Doctor and Rose entered a vehicle that transported them to an arena in which the population of the Citadel all came together. When everyone was gathered, Dryn stepped up to the podium.
"This is a new beginning - a new dawn - with all of time ahead of us. We will be an ancient race before the oldest races we know of are born. And with this new beginning, our planet deserves a new name. Legends speak of a race who were masters of time itself. These are the legends that inspired our earliest explorations of time and that led to this great day."
Dryn paused for a moment, her face blank, then, with a small smile, she looked directly at the Doctor.
The Doctor shuffled his feet, then whispered to Rose, "This would be our cue to leave. Let's go."
As the Doctor and Rose moved through the crowd, Dryn continued. "In honour of that legend, we re-christen our planet, Gallifrey!"
The crowd erupted into cheers. Rose froze in front of the Doctor. Moving beside her and taking her hand, he tugged until she came along with him.
On the transport back to the TARDIS, Rose finally spoke. "Gallifrey? But not your Gallifrey?"
The Doctor sighed. "Even among the Time Lords, only a small number were aware of this. You mustn't repeat what you know. It would put the Earth in grave danger. Yes, this is the beginning of Gallifrey, the beginning of the Time Lords. It's how we started."
"But the Time Lords are different. You're not human. You have two hearts."
"Evolution continued, Rose. Exposure to the time vortex over millennia altered our DNA and made us what we eventually became. This is why Earth was always of great importance. Any change to Earth's history might have prevented the Time Lords from ever existing."
"The Time Lords are descended from humans. From us." Rose looked up at him and grinned. "So I could be your great great great grandmother. With a few more greats. Maybe you'll actually listen to me next time," she added with a wink.
"Rose," said the Doctor sincerely, "How could I ever ignore you?"