Season Three: Voyage of the Damned

"That does not only make noise," she giggled. "The TARDIS wouldn't have a button that was only there to make noise!"

"Alright, Miss Smarty-smart Pants. What does it do then?" he teased her, chuckling.

Their laughter was interrupted when a ship's horn could suddenly be heard and something crashed into the TARDIS throwing them to the floor. As soon as he could clamor to his feet, the Doctor rushed to Rose's side as she also stood shakily. They both looked up to see the bow of an ocean liner broken through the wall.

"What?" the Doctor cried.

"Did we have her shields off?" his wife asked, horrified at the damage to their beloved girl.

He coughed. "What?!"

Rose lifted up a life preserver she noticed in the wreckage and they saw that it read "TITANIC".

Together, the couple half shouted, "What?!"

The Doctor rushed to the controls, and began working feverishly. The TARDIS pulled away from the ship and repaired herself, then he materialized them within the ship.

Once they were stable, the pair stepped out and looked around, seemingly in a supply closet.

"You do love getting me in cupboards, don't you, love?" Rose teased.

He winked and kissed her before closing the TARDIS and stepping out to examine their surroundings. The room was wood-paneled and decorated with potted palms and Christmas decorations. People clothed in early 20th century dress milled about as waiters passed hors d'oeuvres and champagne. The band was playing a sedate version of "Jingle Bells".

The Doctor approached two golden angels garbed in white and they move mechanically, revealing that they were robots. Hand holding tight to Rose's, he wandered to the window and looked out into space just outside of Earth's orbit.

"Right," he said, drawing the word out over several seconds.

"I think we'd better change," Rose nodded, trying not to laugh.

A voice over the PA caught their attention. "Attention all passengers. The Titanic is now in orbit above Sol 3, also known as Earth. Population: Human. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Christmas."

Not long after, the Doctor, in a dinner jacket, watched a video screen as he fiddled with his tie. Familiar hands batted his away as Rose, in a lovely cream colored off the shoulder knee length gown returned to his side and adjusted the tie for him.

"There's always something about a bow tie that you have issues with. I'm forever fixing them for you."

He grinned. "Maybe I'll start wearing bow ties just to make you fix them for me."

Rose laughed and kissed his cheek. "Why not? Bowties are pretty cool."

The band began playing "Winter Wonderland" and he offered her his arm, walking them towards reception.

"Merry Christmas, sir and madam," the steward greeted them.

"Merry Christmas," the Doctor said in return, nudging Rose who simply smiled at him.

Once inside the same room they had seen earlier, the two separated to mingle a bit. The Doctor passed another man talking into a "mobile".

"It's not a holiday for me, not while I've still got my vone. Now do as I say and sell."

Shaking his head at the man, walking away, the Doctor approached one of the angels.

"Evening. Passenger 57. Terrible memory. Remind me. Uh, you would be..."

"Information: Heavenly Host supplying tourist information."

He glanced around and saw Rose speaking to a small red man, laughing, and he smiled before focusing on the robotic steward.

"Good, so, um... tell me - 'cause I'm an idiot - where are we from?"

The mechanically soothing voice replied, "Information: the Titanic is en route from the planet Sto in the Cassavalian Belt. The purpose of the cruise is to experience primitive cultures."

Smothering a laugh, he shook his head. "Titanic. Um...who... thought of the name?"

"Information: it was chosen as the most famous vessel of the planet Earth."

Oh, Rose was going to love hearing this. "Did they tell you why it was famous?"

"Information: all designations are chosen by Mr. Max Capricorn, president of Max - Max - Max..."

The Doctor blinked as the angel glitched out. He pulled out his sonic screwdriver and scanned it, the familiar noise drawing Rose's attention even across the room. She headed toward him even as the chief steward hurried over to him.

Sir, we can handle this," the steward said quickly, waving to others for assistance. Two other stewards arrived and switched off the host, taking it away. "Software problem, that's all. Leave it with us, sir. Merry Christmas."

Rose joined him, taking his hand. "Weird, that," she commented.

"Almost as weird as any date I take you on," he grinned cheekily.

"Oh, is this a date?" she laughed. "Where's the chips?"

Nearby, a waitress dropped her tray of drinks after bumping into the rude man on his vone.

"For Tov's sake, look where you're going!" he snapped. "This jacket's a genuine Earth antique."

"I'm sorry, sir," she said, bending down to pick up the broken glass.

"You'll be sorry when it comes off your wages, sweetheart. Staffed by idiots. No wonder Max Capricorn is going down the drain," he raged, storming off.

The Doctor and Rose exchanged looks before moving to help the poor girl.

"Careful. There we go," the Doctor said gently, gathering most of the glass.

She shook her head. "Thank you, sir. I can manage."

Rose knelt and took the tray, setting it on a nearby table. "We never said you couldn't, love. I'm Rose, and this is the Doctor, by the way."

"Astrid, ma'am. Astrid Peth."

"Nice to meet you, Astrid Peth. Merry Christmas," the Doctor smiled, depositing the glass on the tray.

"Oh! That's right!" His wife laughed a bit. "Happy Christmas, Astrid."

Astrid blinked rapidly in surprise. "Merry Christmas, sir, ma'am."

"Not sir and ma'am," Rose shook her head. "We're just Doctor and Rose."

Smiling at someone being friendly to her, Astrid asked, "You two enjoying the cruise?"

"We haven't quite decided yet," the Doctor said smoothly, winking at Rose.

She picked up the line easily. "I think it'll be better when we find some nice people to talk to."

The waitress nodded, standing. "Is this a honeymoon trip for you?"

The Doctor shook his head, then stared at Rose. "I never did take you on a honeymoon trip, did I?"

Rose laughed. "Honeymoon trip? What's special about that for us? Now, a honeymoon 'staying in one place' thing would be an odd change."

"Minx," he chided her before turning back to their new friend. "What about you? Long way from home, Planet Sto."

"Doesn't feel that different," she admitted. "I spent three years working at the spaceport diner, traveled all the way here...and I'm still waiting on tables."

Astrid walked away with a sigh.

Without a moment's hesitation, the Doctor grabbed Rose's hand and followed after the waitress. "No shore leave?"

She smirked a bit and cleared a table by the window. "We're not allowed. They can't afford the insurance. I just wanted to try it, just once. I used to watch the ships heading off to the stars and I always dreamt of...It sounds daft."

Rose scowled. "Of course it don't sound daft. I know just what you mean. You dreamt of another sky. New sun, new air, new life. A whole universe teeming with life. Why stand still when there's all that life out there? I know I didn't."

The Doctor beamed at his wife, nudging her. Her continued adoration of the life they shared made him fall in love her again and again.

Astrid blinked at her own feelings spilling out of someone else's mouth, "So...you two travel a lot?"

"All the time. Just for fun," the Doctor quipped with amusement. "Well, that's the plan. Never quite works."

"Must be rich, though," the girl smiled.

"Haven't got a penny," he disagreed with a wink. He whispered to her, "Stowaways."

"Kidding," Astrid gasped.

"Seriously," Rose laughed. "Not a penny between us."

"No!"

"Oh, yeah," the Doctor replied comfortably.

"How did you get on board?" she asked them, her eyes alight.

"Accident," he said, rubbing the back of his neck. "We've got this, sort of, ship thing. I was just rebuilding her. Left the defences down, bumped into the Titanic. Here we are. Saw a bit of a party, and thought 'Why not?'"

"I should report you," she giggled.

"Go on then," Rose grinned.

"I'll get you some drinks..." the waitress whispered, shaking her head, "on the house."

As she walked away, the couple noticed a group of high class passengers making fun of a rather heavyset pair in bright purple country-western outfits.

"Just ignore 'em," they heard the man say softly to his wife.

The two sat at their table, the Doctor looking back over his shoulder. "Something's tickled them."

The woman sighed. "They told us it was fancy dress. Very funny, I'm sure."

The man patted her hand. "They're just pickin' on us because we haven't paid. We won our tickets in a competition."

"I had to name the five husbands of Joofie Crystalle in 'By the Light of the Asteroid'. Did you ever watch..." the woman fluttered.

"Is that the one with the twins?" the Doctor asked, a smile on his face.

Rose laughed. "You would think you'd have better things to do than watch those things. You're as bad as mum sometimes."

"And you love me anyway," he shrugged easily.

"That's the one. Oh, it's marvelous," the woman beamed.

Her husband snorted, motioning to the laughing crowd. "Probably not good enough for that lot. They think we should be in steerage."

Rose reached across the Doctor and pulled his sonic screwdriver out, grinning at him. "Can't have that, can we?"

He chuckled softly and dropped a kiss on her nose before leaning back into his seat. He held the sonic screwdriver at his side and aimed behind him. The champagne on their table popped its cork, spraying all over the snotty condescending people. Rose covered her mouth before a giggle could escape.

The woman in purple leaned forward, delight and amazement in her eyes. "Did - Did you do that?"

The Doctor winked conspiratorially as he slipped the sonic screwdriver back into his pocket. "Maybe."

"We like you," she nodded.

"We do," her husband agreed with a grin. He reached a hand out to the Doctor. "I'm Morvin van Hoff. This is my good woman, Foon."

The Doctor shook his hand, and then Foon's. "Morvin. Foon. Hello, I'm the Doctor, and this is my wife, Rose."

Rose grinned and held her hand out to shake theirs also. "I still like hearing that. It's so nice to meet you both."

Foon laughed. "Ooh, I'm gonna need a Doctor by the time I'm finished with this buffet. Have a buffalo wing. They must be enormous, these buffalo, so many wings."

The Doctor picked up a wing, about to correct her, when an announcement interrupted him.

"Attention please. Shore leave tickets Red 6-7 now activated. Red 6-7."

"Red 6-7. That's us," Foon said with excitement as she read her ticket. "Are you Red 6-7?"

The van Hoff's stood and the Doctor and Rose exchanged looks.

"Might as well be," Rose shrugged.

"Come on," Morvin grinned broadly, slinging an arm around his wife. "We're going to Earth."

They walked toward an older man in a tweed suit who held a large red sign that bore the numbers 6-7.

"Red 6-7," he called out. "Red 6-7. This way, fast as you can."

Rose glanced over, seeing Astrid approach. "Doctor, let's take Astrid to see."

He looked at her in surprise. "What?"

She smiled at him. "I remember what it was like, always wanting to do something amazing and being stuck in the same old place. You gave me my whole life when you took me on my first trip. You gave Jack a second chance to be who he really wanted to be. You gave Mickey a chance to be a hero. You gave Martha a whole new way to see life. You should give Astrid an adventure."

He hugged her to him. "Rose, we did those things. You're just as responsible as I am. And if you want to do it again, then I won't stop you."

"I got you those drinks," the waitress said as she neared.

"And we got you a treat. Come on," he said, using his free hand to pull her to the departure area with them. Rose set her tray on a table as they passed.

"Red 6-7 departing shortly," the man called again.

"Two Red 6-7's plus one," the Doctor said confidently, holding up the psychic paper.

"Uh, quickly, sir, and please take these teleport bracelets if you would," the man said, handing them their devices.

Astrid leaned toward Rose. "I'll get the sack."

"Brand new sky," the Doctor taunted, holding her bracelet out.

"We'll take care of you," Rose promised.

The tour guide began to speak. "To repeat, I am Mr. Copper, the ship's historian, and I shall be taking you to old London town in the country of U.K. ruled over by good King Wenceslas. Now human beings worshipped the great god Santa, a creature with fearsome claws, and his wife Mary. And every Christmas Eve the people of U.K. go to war with the country of Turkey. They then eat the Turkey people for Christmas dinner... like savages."

Rose had tears in her eyes from trying to hold in her laughter while the Doctor merely tipped his head at the man in confusion.

"Excuse me, sorry, sorry, but, um...where did you get all this from?" the Time Lord asked.

The guide puffed up with self importance. "Well, I have a first class degree in Earthonomics. Now stand by..."

A higher pitched voice called out, "And me! And me! Red 6-7!"

They all looked over and saw that the owner of the voice was a small red-skinned alien with short spikes along his head. Rose smiled, as she'd been talking to him earlier, but the Doctor frowned in relative alarm.

"Well, take a bracelet, sir?" Mr. Copper said politely.

The Doctor shook his head as though to clear it. "Uh, but, um, hold on, hold on. What was your name?"

"Bannakaffalatta."

"OK, Bannakaffalatta. But it's Christmas Eve down there. Late-night shopping, tons of people. He's like a walking conker. No offence, but you'll cause a riot 'cause the streets are going to be packed with shoppers and parties..."

The Doctor was still trying to explain why the small red man shouldn't go as the entire group was teleported to the surface. Rose looked around in confusion as the street was utterly empty.

"Oh."

"Now, spending money," Mr. Copper said briskly, looking around at his charges. "I have a credit card in Earth currency if you want to by trinkets or, uh, stockings or the local delicacy, which is known as 'beef' but don't stray too far, it could be dangerous. Any day now they start boxing."

"But… it should be full. It should be busy. Something's wrong," the Doctor said in total confusion.

"But it's beautiful," Astrid said in awe.

Rose beamed at her. "Really? Do you think so? It's just a street. The pyramids are beautiful, and New Zealand... oh, the Doctor and I could show you such lovely things here."

The waitress shook her head, grabbing both of Rose's hands in her excitement. "But it's a different planet. I'm standing on a different planet. Th-there's concrete...and shops, alien shops, real alien shops! Look, no stars in the sky. And it smells. It stinks! This is amazing! Thank you!"

She hugged Rose, then the Doctor, beaming exuberantly.

"Yeah?" he asked with a grin of his own. "Come on then, ladies, let's have a look."

He took Rose's hand and gestured to a newsstand where an older man stood, bundled in winter clothes.

"Hello there! Sorry, uh, obvious question, but where's everybody gone?" the Doctor asked curiously.

"Oh-ho, scared!" the man answered, nodding his head matter of factly.

"Yeah? Scared of what?" Rose asked, skimming the front pages of the magazines.

The man laughed. "Where have you been living? London at Christmas? Not safe, is it?"

"Why ain't it?" she asked in alarm.

"Well, it's them, up above," the man replied, pointing skyward. "Look, Christmas before last we had that big bloody spaceship, everyone standing on a roof."

The Doctor slipped an arm around his wife at the reminder of the last Christmas she'd had with her family.

"And then last year, that Christmas Star electrocuting all over the place, draining the Thames," the man shook his head.

"This place is amazing," Astrid said with a grin.

"And this year, Lord knows what. So everybody's scarpered, gone to the country. All except me...and Her Majesty," the newsman said, raising his chin a bit proudly. "God bless her! We stand vigil."

He gave an image of the Queen a salute and Rose smiled.

The Doctor leaned toward him conspiratorially. "Well, between you and me, I think her Majesty's got it right. Far as I know, this year, nothing to worry about."

Suddenly the entire group was teleported back to the ship. The Doctor was annoyed that they had no warning. Any of the tourists could have left people behind to be frightened or confused…

"I was in mid-sentence."

"Yes, I'm sorry about that," Mr. Copper bumbled. "A bit of a problem. If I could have your bracelets…"

The Chief Steward joined the group, his expression authoritative. "Apologies, ladies and gentlemen, Bannakaffalatta, we seem to have suffered a slight power fluctuation. If you'd like to return to the festivities. And on behalf of Max Capricorn Cruiseliners, free drinks will be provided."

The other passengers wandered off, but the Doctor and Rose exchanged a look that said they knew something strange was going on. Their hands sought the other with a calm acceptance that they could not escape helping when it was needed.

"That was the best, the best!" Astrid swore before hurrying off to work.

"What sort of power fluctuation d'ya suppose it was?" Rose asked her Time Lord.

He shook his head, looking around and taking in the guests as they ate, danced, and talked. It was comfortable and decadent… it was too calm. He looked over to the wall, noticing a vid screen and pulled her over to it. The owner/founder of the cruise liner was smiling at the camera.

"...and I should know because my name is Max."

He pulled out his glasses and sonic screwdriver and went to work on the frame while she glanced around to be sure they weren't about to be in trouble.

"The fastest, the furthest, the best...my name is Max."

The Doctor opened the frame and changed some settings until the screen showed the Titanic and her immediate surroundings. He saw the shields were offline and peered out the window, seeing the meteors approaching.

"Doctor… that's trouble, isn't it?" Rose asked softly, following his line of sight.

He nodded and looped an arm around her waist before turning and calling up to the bridge. "Is that the bridge? I need to talk to the captain. You've got a meteoroid storm coming in West 0 by North 2."

"Who is this?" the voice of the captain responded, sounding both surprised and angry.

"Never mind that. Your shields are down. Check your scanners, Captain. You've got meteoroids coming in and no shielding!" the Doctor said, feeling a flutter of panic.

"You have no authorization. You will clear the comms at once."

Rose felt her husband's fear, and tried to soothe him, even though she was feeling pretty nervous as well.

"Yeah? Just look starboard!" he snapped, noticing the stewards who'd been sent to remove him from the reception area.

"If you'll just come with us," one of them said as they began to lead the pair out.

"But he's tellin' the truth!" Rose cried, now alarmed. "You've got a rock storm heading for this ship and the shields are down!"

"Everyone, listen to me! This is an emergency! Get to the lifeb-" the Doctor shouted before a Host clamped a metal hand over his mouth.

The people they'd befriended all seemed shocked as they watched the scene.

"Look out the windows!" Rose shouted before she, too, was silenced.

The people began to migrate toward the windows, even the rude man in the business deals looking concerned. Bannakaffalatta approached the stewards.

"These, friends," he insisted.

"If you don't believe me, check the shields yourself!" the Doctor begged the men.

"Sir, I can vouch for them!" Astrid called, wanting to save her new friends.

Morvin held out his hands. "Look, they're celebrating, drinking a bit much is all…"

"Sir, something seems to have gone wrong. All the teleports are down," Mr. Copper said, approaching just then, oblivious of the trouble.

"Not now!" the Steward snapped.

A small piece of rock broke through a window and landed at the business man's feet.

"Oxygen membrane holding. Oxygen membrane holding."

The business man paled and turned to a nearby Host. "You there. Has anyone checked the external shielding?"

The angelic looking robot bowed slightly and spoke, "Information: you are all going to die."

As the stewards drug the Doctor and Rose through an interior corridor, the Von Hoffs, Astrid, Bannakaffalatta and the rude man following behind them.

"The shields are down, we are going to get hit," the Doctor continued to exclaim, everyone talking at once.

The whole ship lurched as he was proven correct and the asteroids struck the hull. The Doctor wrenched free and cradled Rose to him as they were all thrown to the floor. Once the shaking and shuddering stopped, he stood and helped her to her feet, shushing everyone and listening.

"It's stopping," he said quietly, reaching into his pockets as though looking for something.

"You all right?" Rose asked Astrid, helping her up.

"I think so," the other woman replied shakily.

The Doctor shook his head and reached into his pocket, pulling out one of Rose's trainers, holding it out to her. "Bad name for a ship. Either that or this suit is really unlucky."

"It's the ship," she said, calmly changing her shoes while the others looked at them as though they were mad. "I like that suit and you aren't getting out of wearing it that easily."

He kissed her cheek before moving to kneel and examine one of the stewards. The man was dead.

"Ev-everyone... Ladies and gentlemen, Bannakaffalatta, I must apologize on behalf of Max Capricorn Cruiseliners. We seem to have had a small collision," the remaining steward stammered.

"Small?," snapped the business man. "You know how much I paid for my ticket?"

"If I could have silence, ladies, gentlemen..." the steward said, trying to remain polite.

The people in the corridor ignored him and began arguing loudly.

Frustrated, he shouted, stopping them all, "Quiet! Thank you. I-I'm sure Max Capricorn Cruiseliners will be able to reimburse you for any inconvenience. But first I would point out that we are very much alive."

Astrid spoke in a soft voice, leaning over the historian and dabbing at a cut on Mr. Copper's head. "Are you all right?"

Rose and the Doctor moved to check on the others.

"She is, after all, a fine, sturdy ship. If you could all stay here while I ascertain the exact nature of the - the situation," the steward continued, moving to open a hatch.

"Don't open it!" the Doctor shouted, jumping toward him.

His warning came just a moment too late, as the steward wrenched the hatch open and was immediately sucked out into the vacuum of space. Everyone cried out and grabbed hold of the piping running along the wall before they too could be pulled out. The Doctor made his way to the communications panel and used the sonic screwdriver to replace the shielding on that area. The pulling stopped and everyone slumped to the floor.

"Oxygen shield stabilized," the computer announced.

"Everyone all right?" he asked, moving immediately to Rose's side, relieved as she smiled at him.

"I'm still here, love. Not getting rid of me that easy," she teased breathlessly.

"Hopefully never getting rid of you," he said seriously, pulling his wife into a hug. "All right then? Astrid?"

The waitress looked up with a nod, panting slightly. "Yeah."

Still holding Rose tightly, he looked around. "Foon? Morvin? Mr Copper? Bannakaffalatta?"

They all nodded, getting to their feet. The small red man nodded confidently.

"Yes."

He turned to the rude man, realizing he didn't even know the man's name. "You, What was your name?"

He adjusted the lapels of his jacket, worried more about his appearance than the other passengers. "Ah, Rickston Slade."

"You all right?" the Doctor asked solicitously.

"No thanks to that idiot," Rickston sniffed.

Astrid looked at him in horror at his callousness. "The steward just died."

He sneered. "Then he's a dead idiot."

Astrid gasped and took a step towards Rickston, but Rose beat her to it. In a second, she was out of her husband's arms and crossed to the business man and slapped him full across the face, fire flashing in her hazel eyes.

"You stupid, selfish, son of a – "

The Doctor caught her and pulled her back, holding her tight until she stopped trying to attack Rickston.

"All right, calm down. Just stay still, all of you - even you, Rose. Hold on."

He released her and walked to hatch opening.

Rose jerked toward Rickston like she'd attack him again, satisfied when he flinched back and turned to join the Doctor at the opening with Astrid.

"What happened?" the Sto woman asked. "How come the shields were down?"

"I don't think it was an accident," he replied grimly.

They stared out at the floating wreckage, dotted with passengers and the women both sighed sadly. Rose took her husband's hand, knowing he would be hurting as much as she even if he didn't show it.

"How many dead?" Astrid asked.

Squeezing Rose's hand, he turned. "We're alive, just focus on that. We will get you out of here, Astrid. I promise. Look at me. I promise."

She nodded slowly, and Rose pulled her into a hug. She like this woman, and she understood what it was like to suddenly find yourself in an adventure you never saw coming. She thought back to their adventure on the viewing station at the death of Earth.

"Good. Now-" the Doctor looked around, assessing their situation. "If we can get to Reception, Rose and I have got a spaceship tucked away. We can all get on board..."

Rose leaned back and looked at him, sudden alarm on her face. "Umm…"

Her husband's face fell. "Oh."

"I'm sorry. She's already locked on…"

"It's nothing to apologize for, just makes this a bit harder," he sighed.

"What is it? What's wrong?"

Rose pointed out the hole. "That's our spaceship over there."

"Where?"

"There, that box. That little blue box."

They watched the TARDIS float toward the planet below.

"That's a spaceship?" Astrid asked in disbelief.

"Oi, don't knock it," the Doctor exclaimed.

"It's a bit small," she said sheepishly.

"A bit distant. Trouble is, once it's set adrift, it's programmed to lock onto the nearest centre of gravity and that would be...the Earth," he glanced nervously at Rose.

"She's not hurt though," his wife said softly. "And I'll be fine. We'll just have to get down to Earth."

He kissed her forehead and moved over to the communications panel. "Deck 22 to the bridge. Deck 22 to the bridge. Is there anyone there?"

"This is the bridge," a pained, frightened, and very young sounding voice came back after a moment.

"Oh hello, sailor. Good to hear you. What's the situation up there?" the Doctor returned in relief.

"We've got air. The oxygen field is holding. But the captain..." there was a pause on the other end, "He's dead. He did it. I watched while he took down the shields. There was nothing I could do. I tried. I did try."

The young man sounded like he was going to cry, and Rose made a sympathetic sound.

"All right. Just stay calm," the Doctor said soothingly. "Tell me your name. What's your name?"

"Midshipman Frame."

"Nice to meet you, sir. What's the state of the engines?"

"They're um..." There was a groaning on the other end. "Hold on."

"Are you all right?" Rose asked, her natural concern for people prompting her to interrupt. "Were ya hurt?"

"I'm all right, ma'am," he replied bravely. "Oh my vot. They're cycling down."

The Doctor thought a moment. "That's a nuclear storm drive, yes?"

"Yeah."

The Doctor looked at Rose. "The moment they're gone, we lose orbit."

She bit her lip and nodded.

"The planet," the boy in the bridge said in horror.

"Oh yes. If we hit the planet, the nuclear storm explodes and wipes out life on Earth. Midshipman, I need you to fire up the engine containment field and feed it back into the core," he directed, trying to think fast about how to save the planet he loved and the woman at his side, not to mention everyone else.

"This is never going to work."

"Trust me, it'll keep the engines going until I can get to the bridge," the Doctor assured him.

He turned to face the others, looking grim.

"We're going to die!" Foon exclaimed.

Mr. Copper wrung his hands. "Are you saying someone's done this on purpose?"

"We're just a cruise ship!" Astrid nearly wept.

The Doctor held up his hands. "Okay, okay. Tch, tch. First things first. One: we're going to climb through this ship. B...no...two: we're going to reach the bridge. Three - or C: we're going to save the Titanic. And, coming in a very low Four or D or that little "iv" in brackets they use in footnotes...why. Right then, follow me."

"Hang on a minute," Rickston snapped. "Who put you in charge and who the hell are you anyway?"

Rose glared at the man.

The Doctor turned and drew himself up to his full height. When he spoke, it was a voice that commanded respect and obedience. "I'm the Doctor. I'm a Time Lord. I'm from the planet Gallifrey in the constellation of Kasterborous. I'm 903 years old and I'm the man who's gonna save your lives and all six billion of the people on the planet below. You got a problem with that?"

The cowed Rickston slumped. "No."

"God, I just wanna kiss you," Rose said, shaking her head.

Her husband grinned at her. "In that case, allons-y!"

They headed away from the hatch, toward the interior of the ship. The Doctor slowly pushed open a metal door that lead into a stairwell littered with debris and sparking cables.

"Nice, why don't we have one of these on the TARDIS?" Rose commented drily.

"Careful. Follow me," he said, shaking his head at her cheek.

They moved ahead, clearing enough room to walk through. Astrid followed behind them with Bannakaffalatta, then Mr. Copper, Rickston and the Van Hoffs.

Mr. Copper couldn't help but comment. "Rather ironic when this is very much in the spirit of Christmas. It's a festival of violence. They say that human beings only survive depending on whether they've been good or bad. It's barbaric."

"Actually, that's not true. Christmas is a time of - of peace and thanksgiving and...what am I on about? Christmas is always like this," the Doctor laughed, looking at Rose. "Since I met you."

"Me?" she pretended to be outraged. "I had 19 perfectly ordinary, safe, boring Christmases on that planet down there before you came 'round and blew up my job."

They uncovered a dormant robotic Host.

"We've got a Host," the Doctor said, quite pleased. "Strength of ten. If we can mend it, we can use it to fix the rubble."

Morvin straightened and gestured between himself and his wife. "We can do robotics, both of us."

"We worked on the milk market back on Sto. It's all robot staff," Foon agreed, wanting to help.

"Brilliant," the Doctor nodded. "See if you can get it working. We'll see what's ahead of us."

Everyone but the Van Hoffs climbed the stairs to find their path blocked by wreckage.

"It's blocked," Astrid said, frowning.

"So what do we do?" Rose asked. "Can we shift it?"

"That's my girl," he said approvingly, kissing her cheek. "Rickston, Mr. Copper, and you, Bannakaffalatta..." he stopped and addressed the smaller man. "Look, can I just call you Banna? It's gonna save a lot of time."

The alien drew himself to his full, if diminutive height, and insisted, "No! Bannakaffalatta!"

"All right then, Bannakaffalatta, there's a gap in the middle. See if you can get through."

He eyed the gap. "Easy. Good."

He squeezed through opening and the ship lurched again, sending loose debris falling on them.

"This whole thing could come crashing down any minute!" Rickston cried in a nearly panicked tone.

The Doctor dropped his head for a moment, then said almost conversationally. "Oh, Rickston, I forgot. Did you get our message?"

The business man immediately reached for his vone and checked it. "No. What message?"

Both the Doctor and Rose glared at him, shouting, "Shut up!"

From the other side, the red man called back, "Bannakaffalatta made it."

"I'm small enough, I can get through," Astrid volunteered.

"Be careful," Rose said as they watched the waitress make her way through the hole.

"I'm fine."

Rickston pouted. "Thing is, how are Mr. and Mrs. Fatso gonna get through this gap?"

"We make the gap bigger. So start," Rose snapped, throwing a bit of metal at him.

The Doctor, Rose, and Mr. Copper began clearing the rubble away, while Rickston simply stood there, refusing to lift a hand. After a couple of moments, the laughter of the pair below could be heard. Rose smiled, glancing at the Doctor. It made her feel good that they weren't the only ones in love enough to laugh while their lives were on the line.

"What happened? Did they find a donut?" the miserable business man asked snarkily, prompting Rose to chuck another bit of debris at him.

"I can clear it from this side. Just tell me if it starts moving," Astrid called back, having made it. "Rose, if I can get through, you can."

Rose kissed her husband quickly and began to duck through. It was nerve wracking, having all the wreckage just above her head, knowing the Doctor wouldn't relax until she was safely through. Just as she was there, she heard him shout nervously.

"What's going on up there?!"

Astrid gave Rose a hand and grinned, calling back. "I think Bannakaffalatta and I just got engaged. And Rose is safe."

"Almost done!" Morvin called up to them.

"Good, good, good," the Doctor said, contacting the bridge. "Mr. Frame, how's things?"

"Doctor, I've got life signs all over the ship but they're going out one by one."

He reared back at that report. "What is it? Are they losing air?"

"No. One of them said it's the Host. It's something to do with the Host."

The Doctor swore in several languages and spun around, heading for the Van Hoffs.

"It's working!" Morvin shouted triumphantly.

The robot grabbed the man by the throat as the Doctor rushed to them.

"Kill. Kill. Kill."

"Turn it off!" the Doctor cried.

Foon tried, but the switch brought no response. "I can't, Doctor!"

"Go!" he shouted at her, getting her moving toward the stairwell.

He whipped out the sonic and aimed it at the robot. "Lock! Double deadlock!"

He pried the man free with his hands, pushing him toward his wife. "Okay, go upstairs!"

"Run, darling, run!" Foon cried.

"Information: kill, kill, kill..."

"Foon! Foon!"

The Doctor shouted up the stairs. "Rickston! Get them through!"

"No chance!"

He tore through the opening, leaving them all to fend for themselves.

"Rickston!" Mr. Copper shouted angrily.

Foon stopped at the opening. "I'll never get through there."

"Yes, you can. Let me go first, I'll help you," the older man encouraged her.

The Doctor managed to get to the comms and call the bridge. "It's the Host! They've gone berserk! Are you safe up there?"

Mr. Copper, Astrid and Rose were helping Foon.

"No, I'm stuck!" the woman cried.

"Come on, you can do it!" Astrid urged her.

Rose and Mr. Copper used metal poles as a lever to widen the space.

"It's going to collapse!" Mr. Copper grunted as Foon made it through. "Rickston, vot damn it, help us!"

He shook his head, staying as far from harm as possible. "No... way."

"Morvin, get through!" the Doctor shouted.

The man moved to obey, having an even harder time moving through the opening than his wife had, while the Doctor saw the repaired Host moving toward them.

"Kill. Kill. Kill."

The Doctor entered the gap behind Morvin.

"Doctor, he's stuck!" Rose called to him.

"Mr. Van Hoff, I know we've only just met but you'll have to excuse me," the Time Lord said, placing both hands on the larger man's rear and shoving him.

Morvin stumbled through to the other side, into the arms of his wife.

"That's it," Astrid said to him. "We've got you. Doctor, come on, get through."

The Host came up behind him just at that moment and the Doctor turned and shouted to it, "Information override! You will tell me the point of origin of your command structure!"

"I can't hold it!" Mr. Copper groaned, straining to hold his side of the debris.

Rose leaned down a bit, "Doctor! Come on!"

"Information: Deck 31," the Host responded, pausing in its intent to kill them.

"Thank you," the Doctor said quickly, scrambling through the gap. "Let go!"

The two released their levers, causing the debris to shift and crash down on the Host. Rose hugged him tightly.

"You don't half scare me to death, sometimes. Did that thing say Deck 31?"

"Yes," he replied, hugging her tightly in return. "But let's get these people to safety before we go get the bad guy."

The group continued on, soon finding themselves in an open room.

"I think we're in the kitchens," Rose said.

The Doctor looked at her. "Oh? What makes you say that?"

She pointed to a nearby counter where trays still sat, ready to be served to guests.

"Morvin, look, food," Foon said.

"Oh great. Someone's happy," Rickston sneered sarcastically.

Morvin glared at the man, putting an arm around his wife. "Don't have any then."

"I think it's best if we all have a bit," Rose said, sticking her tongue out at Rickston. "We're going to need all the energy we can muster to get through this. And I'm about this far from popping you."

She held her fingers up, slightly parted and her husband stifled a smile as he headed to the comms to speak to Midshipman Frame again.

"Mr. Frame, you still there?"

The timid voice came back. "Yes, sir, but I've got Host outside. I sealed the door."

The Doctor frowned thoughtfully. "They've been programmed to kill. Why would anyone do that?"

"That's not the only problem, Doctor. I had to use a maximum deadlock on the door, which means... No one can get in. I'm sealed off. Even if you can fix the Titanic, you can't get to the bridge."

He glanced at his wife, running a hand through his hair. "Yeah, right, fine. One problem at a time. What's on Deck 31?"

"Um, that's down below. It's nothing. It's just the Host storage deck. That's where we keep the robots."

The Doctor examined the scanner, looking for some sort of clue as to how to fix the situation. "Well, what's that?" he asked, putting on his glasses. "See that panel? Black. It's registering nothing. No power, no heat, no light."

"Never seen it before."

"It's 100% shielded. What's down there?" he mused as Rose came to his side.

"I'll try intensifying the scanner."

"Let me know if you find anything," the Doctor instructed, removing his glasses. "And keep those engines going!"

Astrid brought them some food. "Saved you some. You might be a Time King from Gaddabee but you need to eat."

"Yeah, thanks," the Doctor said distractedly, taking the offered plate and sitting.

Rose smiled at her in thanks and sat next to him, motioning for him to eat.

"So, you look good for 903," Astrid commented, sitting with them.

"You should see me in the mornings," he joked, mouth full. "Rose says it's bad."

The women both laughed.

"If he's 903, how old are you?"

Rose tipped her head, thinking about the time she'd lived with the Doctor. "I… I'm… what twenty three, twenty four now?"

He nodded, swallowing. "Twenty four."

Astrid blinked. "Bit of an age difference, isn't there?"

The other woman shrugged. "I was human when we met, and he probably would have never made a move, but then… well, things changed."

"You ain't human?"

"Nope," she replied, popping the p as the Doctor chuckled. "But that's a rather long, complicated story for just now."

Mr. Copper walked up to them, smiling a bit nervously. "Doctor, Miss Rose, it must be well past midnight, Earth time. Christmas Day."

The Doctor looked up with a small smile. "So it is. Merry Christmas."

"This Christmas thing, what's it all about?" Astrid asked curiously.

"Another long story," the Doctor grinned. "I should know, I was there. I got the last room."

"You did not," Rose said incredulously.

"I did! It was an amazing night," he insisted.

"But if the planet's waking up, can't we signal them? They can send up a rocket or something," Mr. Copper pressed.

"They don't have spaceships," Rose countered.

Mr. Copper shook his head. "No, I read about it. They have shuffles, space shuffles."

The Doctor tipped his head. "Mr. Copper, this degree in Earthonomics... where's it from?"

"Where do you all get your information?" he countered.

"Nineteen years of living there," Rose answered. "I was from Earth until I ran away with an alien. Your turn."

The man looked around nervously. "Honestly?"

"Just between us," the Doctor swore, winking at the other man.

He flushed slightly and dropped his head. "Mrs. Golightly's Happy Travelling University and Dry Cleaners."

Astrid stared at him with wide, unblinking eyes. "You - you lied to the company... to get the job?"

"I- I wasted my life on Sto. I was a travelling salesman, always on the road and I reached retirement with nothing to show for it. Not even a home. And Earth sounded so exotic," Mr. Copper explained, his desperation clear on his face.

"Hm, I suppose it is, yeah," the Doctor smiled slightly, draping an arm around Rose. "I spent a good many years happy there and happier still because of that planet."

She grinned up at him. "No matter what year we find ourselves in."

Astrid looked at them. "How'd you end together again?"

He moved his arm to rub the back of his neck sheepishly. "I was sort of...a few years ago, was sorta made... well, sort of homeless, and, um there was the Earth, and there was a sort of invasion…"

"And he blew up my job during it," Rose added cheekily.

"Thing is," Mr. Copper interrupted, "if we survive this, there will be police and all sorts of investigations. Now the minimum penalty for space-age fraud is ten years in jail. I'm an old man. Well, I won't survive ten years."

There was a banging on the door and the Doctor dropped his food and rushed to it, locking it.

"A Host! Move! Come on!"

The pounding continued on the door, which began to dent from the force. Astrid screamed in fear and they all rushed to follow the Doctor to the opposite side. He used the sonic screwdriver on the door and it opened to reveal a space that ran the height of the ship. The only way across was a makeshift bridge - created by a fallen strut - below which were the engines.

"Who designed this thing?" Rose asked over the roar of the engines.

"Is that the only way across?" Rickston asked, pointing to the strut.

"On the other hand, it is a way across," the Doctor said, trying to point out the positives.

"The engines are open," Astrid exclaimed.

The Doctor nodded. "Nuclear storm drive. Soon as it stops, the Titanic falls."

The pounding continued behind them.

"But that thing, it'll never take our weight," Morvin said worriedly to the Doctor, glancing at his frightened wife.

Rickston sneered at the overweight man. "You're going last, mate."

The Time Lord shook his head. "It's nitrofine metal. It's stronger than it looks."

"All the same, Rickston's right. Me and Foon should –"

As he attempted to explain, he shifted to the side, stepping on a bit of edging weakened from the impact. The railing gave way and he lost his balance, falling toward the engine with a fading scream. Rose barely held Foon back as the woman reached toward her lost mate.

"Morvin!"

The others stood in silent shock and horror as one of their small party was lost.

"I told you! I told you!" Rickston shouted.

It was Mr. Copper who turned to the self centered businessman and raised his hand threateningly. "Just shut up! Shut up!"

"Bring him back!" Foon screamed hysterically. "Can't you bring him back? Bring him back, Doctor!"

"I'm sorry, I can't." The words were spoken softly, with such heartache, that none of them could doubt his sincerity.

"You promised me!" the grieving woman sobbed.

"I know. I'm sorry. I'm sorry."

Rose hugged her, knowing the pain of losing someone you loved. Her eyes locked with the Doctor's. "This isn't your fault love. And we still have the rest of these people to save."

More pounding centered them on the sickening reality that if they didn't move, they would all join Morvin in death.

"Doctor, I rather think those things have got our scent," Mr. Copper said worriedly, glancing at the door.

"I'm not waiting," Rickston said, once again reacting selfishly and starting across the bridge.

"Careful! Take it slowly!" the Doctor called in caution.

The ship rumbled and rocked and the man was nearly thrown off the beam.

"Vot help me."

"You're okay," Rose said, not feeling particularly sympathetic toward him. "One step at a time. Come on, you can do it."

"They're getting nearer!" Mr. Copper called in reference to the Host trying to get to them.

"I have to seal us in," the Doctor muttered, using his sonic screwdriver on the door.

"Leaving us trapped, wouldn't you say?" the older gentleman commented.

"Never say trapped, just inconveniently circumstanced," the Doctor disagreed.

"I'm okay!" Rickston shouted, though no one was particularly concerned about much more than whether it was possible to make it across.

"Maybe he's all right," Foon said in a sudden, hopeful tone. "Maybe - Maybe there's a gravity curve down there or something. I don't know. Maybe he's unconscious."

"I'm sorry, Foon. He's gone," Astrid said gently, hugging the woman with Rose.

"What am I going to do without him?" she sobbed.

Rickston reached the other side and cheered for himself. "Yes! Oh yes! Who's good?!"

"Bannakaffalatta, you go next," the Doctor directed.

"Bannakaffalatta, small."

"Slowly!" Rose warned.

The Host began to pound on the door just near them.

"They've found us!" Mr. Copper exclaimed.

"Astrid, get across right now," the Doctor ordered, placing himself between the door and the others.

"What about you lot?" she asked.

"Just do it. Go on," he half shouted, looking at Rose. "She's a lot like you, you know. All questions. Mr. Copper, we can't wait. Don't argue. Then you, Rose."

She nodded, knowing better than to pick a fight at that moment. The three of them made their way onto the beam and began the heart stopping journey to the other side.

"Foon, you've got to get across right now," the Doctor said, trying to sound supportive and caring, despite his growing panic.

"What for? What am I gonna do without him?" the new widow moaned.

"Doctor! The door's locked!" Rickston called from the other side.

In a softer tone, he said, "Just think... what would he want, eh?"

"He don't want nothing, he's dead!" Foon sobbed.

Rickston, not caring one whit about Foon or her torment, yelled, "Doctor, I can't open the door. We need the whirring key thing of yours!"

"I can't leave her!" the Time Lord snapped.

"She'll get us all killed if we can't get out!"

Even the Doctor couldn't argue with that. He leaned down to look her full in the face and said, "Mrs. Van Hoff, I am coming back for you, all right?"

As she nodded, he stepped away and began to inch across as well. Under this last bit of weight, the strut began to creak.

"Too many people!" Bannakaffalatta said.

"Oi! Don't get spiky with me! Keep going!" Rose demanded. "Ain't none of us getting off until we get over there!"

"It's gonna fall!" Astrid cried in fear.

"It's just settling! Keep going!"

The Doctor had to smile a bit at the tenacity of his wife. She never gave up, that's for sure.

The pounding stopped, leaving the area oddly quietly with only the soft rush from the engine below.

"They've stopped," Astrid noted.

Bannakaffalatta glanced back. "Gone away?"

"Why would they give up?" the Doctor asked wonderingly.

"Never mind that. Keep coming!" Rickston demanded, eager to get the door open and himself out.

"Where have they gone? Where are the Host?" the Doctor murmured to himself.

Mr. Copper was looking upward. "I'm afraid...we forgot they were designed in the tradition of Christmas - and angels have wings!"

He pointed at several Host who were gliding down from above and encircling them.

"Information: kill."

The Host reached up toward their halos and the Doctor shouted, "Arm yourselves! All of you!"

Everyone reached for bits of metal and pipe to defend themselves as the Host flung the sharp metal halos at them. The Doctor batted one away to catch another in his upper arm, while Mr. Copper missed one that left a slice in his leg. Astrid wobbled on her heels and fell to her knees on the pipe, while Rose was hit in the side, a decent wound left behind.

"I can't," Astrid moaned, cowering.

Bannakaffalatta rushed to protect her, shaking his head. "Bannakaffalatta stop! Bannakaffalatta proud! Bannakaffalatta, cyborg!"

The little man ripped open his shirt, revealing to them all that he was indeed a cyborg. With a shout, he sent out a wave of energy that rendered the Host inert. The robots fell toward the engine, one landing on the strut just behind the Doctor.

"Electromagnetic pulse took out the robotics. Oh, Bannakaffalatta, that was brilliant!" he crowed triumphantly.

The small alien smiled weakly, falling. Astrid was up in a moment and hovering over him.

"He's used all his power!" she cried.

"Did good?" he asked her quietly.

She nodded tearfully. "You saved our lives."

"Bannakaffalatta happy," he sighed.

"We can recharge you, get you to a power point and just plug you in!" she said, touching his face.

"Too late."

Rose looked at the Doctor questioningly, but he shook his head sadly. He didn't know if her strange abilities would work in helping their small friend, and he couldn't risk her when she was already injured and in trouble.

Astrid was crying now. "No, but...you gotta get me that drink, remember?"

The small alien reached toward her face, murmuring softly, "Pretty girl."

As he breathed his last, Astrid tried to cover him respectfully, sobbing quietly. Mr. Copper crawled to them, reaching for Bannakaffalatta's power source.

"I'm sorry. Forgive me," he said with a heavy tone.

"Leave him alone," Astrid ordered him.

"It's the EMP transmitter. He - he'd want us to use it," the older man said gently, removing the core. "I used to sell these things. They'd always give me a bed for the night in the cyborg caravans. They're good people. But if we can recharge it, we can reuse it as a weapon against the rest of the Host. Bannakaffalatta might have saved us all."

"Do you think? Try telling him that," Rickston snapped, pointing at the Host.

It was beginning to move. "Information: reboot."

"Use the EMP!" Rickston yelled.

"It's dead!" Mr. Copper shouted back.

"It's gotta have emergency – " Astrid said hopefully, taking the core from Mr. Copper.

The Doctor turned to the Host, his only thought that he had to at least get Rose to safety.

"No, no, no. Hold on. Override loophole security protocol... Ten! 666! Oh. 21, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. Um, I dunno, 42! Uh, one!" he shouted, hoping against hope that something would work.

The Host stopped mid-motion and stood passively before them. "Information: state request."

"Good...right. You've been ordered to kill the survivors, but why?" the Doctor asked.

"Information: no witnesses."

Rose glanced at the others, who all seemed just as confused.

The Doctor shook his head. "But this ship's gonna fall on the Earth and kill everyone. The human race have nothing to do with the Titanic so that contravenes your orders, yes?"

"Information: incorrect."

"But why do you want to destroy the Earth?" he asked.

"Information: it is the plan."

"What plan?" the Doctor queried.

"Information: protocol grants you only three questions. These three questions have been used."

The Doctor blinked, taken aback. "Well, you could have warned me."

"Information: now you will die."

Just as the Host moved to kill the Doctor, a rope was thrown over its head and tightened around its arms. From behind it, Foon growled, "You're coming with me."

The woman took a deep breath, closed her eyes, and leapt off the beam, tugging the Host to its destruction behind her.

"Nooooo!" the Doctor cried, barely registering Rose move to his side.

The survivors watched the woman follow her husband's path to the engine and her death.

"No more," the Doctor vowed, turning to them. "No more are going to die."

The remaining people made it out of the shaft and into another set of maintenance halls.

"Right," the Doctor said, issuing orders like a general. "Get up to Reception One. Once you're there, Mr. Copper, you've got staff access to the computer. Try and find a way of transmitting an SOS. Astrid, you're in charge of this." He handed her the EMP transmitter that she'd given him. "Once it's powered up, it'll take out Hosts within fifty yards but then it needs sixty seconds to recharge. Got it? Rose, take this." He handed her the sonic screwdriver. "I really should have made you your own at this point, and I will when we get home. I preset it to open the doors on the ship. Do not get hurt or wander off, I know how you like to do that."

She smiled weakly at his attempt at a joke. "I never like the plans where we split up."

"Neither do I," he assured her, kissing her gently. "I am coming back for you, just like I always do. Astrid, where's the power point?"

"Under the comms," she replied promptly, showing him.

He showed her how to recharge the transmitter. "When it's ready, that blue light comes on there."

"You're talking as if you're not coming with us," the woman said, suddenly realizing.

"He isn't," Rose answered for him. "He's going to Deck 31 to stop whatever's sending the Host after us so that we have a better chance of surviving this and saving Earth."

"What if you meet a Host?" she asked, wide eyed.

"Well, then I'll just...have some fun, eh?" he said with a wink.

"Sounds like you do this kind of thing all the time," the Sto woman scoffed, even though she was near shaking in fear at the thought of him leaving them.

"Not by choice. All I do is travel. That's what I am, just a traveller. Imagine it. No tax, no bills, no boss, just the open sky," he said, looking for confirmation from Rose.

She smiled softly, seeing what he was doing and agreeing with him. "And you're sort of…unemployed now and we were thinking if the blue box isn't too small for ya, you could kinda squeeze in. Like a stowaway."

Astrid blinked. "Really?"

"It's not always safe," the Doctor warned her.

"I've got no one back on Sto, no family, just me. Could I really come with you?"

Rose answered for the both of them. "Yeah, we'd like that. Yes."

The ship lurched again and the Doctor stood and spoke into the comms. "Mr. Frame, you still with us?"

"It's the engines, sir. Final phase. There's nothing more I can do. We've got only eight minutes left!"

"Don't worry, I'll get there," the Doctor vowed.

"The bridge is sealed off!"

"Yeah, yeah, working on it. I'll get there, Mr. Frame, somehow." He broke the connection and looked around. "All charged up? Mr. Copper, look after her. Astrid, look after him. Rickston, um...look after yourself. And I'll see you all again, promise." He turned to Rose and touched her cheek.

"I know," she said with a smile.

"I'll see you soon," he told her seriously. "I love you."

"I love you," she echoed, kissing him. "Now go. I'll keep them and myself safe."

He returned the kiss quickly, but passionately and sighed before taking off down the corridor.

"And don't ruin that suit!" Rose called, wanting to end on a light note.

The four people headed toward reception, opening a door to find Host there.

"Do it!" Rose said to Astrid.

She used the EMP and the Host collapsed, leaving them all stunned for a moment before they cheered and laughed.

"Recharge it," Mr. Copper said. "We may just make it."

The Doctor hadn't gone far when he found himself surrounded by Host. A few smartly worded questions later he was taken to Deck 31.

Above, in reception, Astrid had just knocked out a room full of Host and they looked around. As one, they all ran toward the tour desk.

"Rickston, seal the doors, make the room secure," Rose said as Astrid charged the EMP. "Mr. Copper, keep an eye on the Host. We need to check the computer. We need that SOS."

She tried several things, but the computer wasn't working. She hit it in a manner she'd definitely picked up from a certain Time Lord. Then she saw the teleport bracelets.

"Bridge, this is Reception!" she said into the comms.

"Who's there?" Frame's voice replied.

"I'm Rose Tyler. I'm the Doctor's wife. Tell me, can you divert any power to the teleport system?"

"No way, ma'am. I'm using everything I got to keep the engines running."

She shook her head. "It's just one trip. I need to get to Deck 31."

"And I'm telling you no."

Astrid handed the EMP to Mr. Copper and joined Rose at the comms.

"Mr. Frame... this is for the Doctor. He's gone down there on his own, and we can't just leave him. He's done everything he can to save us. It's time we did something to help him," the waitress said, grabbing Rose's hand.

"Giving you power."

Rose turned on the teleport and grabbed a bracelet. Astrid grabs one also.

"Mr. Copper, we're gonna find him," the Sto woman said.

Rose didn't argue. They would both likely be needed, knowing her husband.

"Good luck," the man said sincerely as they put the bracelets on and teleported.

"Oh, ho ho, the office joker. I like a funny man. No one's been funny with me for years," the women heard as they arrived, seeing max Capricorn's head on a large machine keeping it alive.

"I can't think why," the Doctor replied blithely.

The two women snuck closer.

"176 years of running the company have taken their toll."

The Doctor shrugged. "Yeah, but...nice wheels."

"No, a life-support system in a society that despises cyborgs. I've had to hide away for years. Running the company by hologram. Host, situation report," the embittered man complained.

"Information: Titanic is still in orbit."

"Let me see," he snapped, moving forward as the Doctor stepped out of his way. "We should have crashed by now. What's gone wrong?" He moved to the edge of the platform and looked down on engines. "The engines are still running! They should have stopped!"

"When they do, the Earth gets roasted," the Doctor said. "I don't understand. What's the Earth got to do with it?"

"This interview is terminated," Max snapped, moving back toward his impact chamber.

"No, no, no, no, no, no! Hold on! Hold on! Hold on! Wait! Wait! Wait! Wait! Wait! I can work it out. It's like a task. I'm your apprentice. Just watch me. So... Business is failing and you wreck the ship so that makes things even worse. Oh yes! No. Yes. The business isn't failing, it's failed. Past tense."

The mogul turned around, scowling fiercely. "My own board voted me out. Stabbed me in the back."

"If you had a back. So... You scupper the ship, wipe out any survivors in case anyone's rumbled you and the board find their shares halved in value. Oh, but that's not enough. No, 'cause if a Max Capricorn ship hits the Earth, it destroys an entire planet. Outrage back home. Scandal! The business is wiped out."

Rose and Astrid moved closer, separating to find hiding spots.

Max smirked fiendishly. "And... the whole board thrown in jail for mass murder."

"While you sit there, safe inside the impact chamber," the Doctor said in horrified disbelief.

"I have men waiting to retrieve me from the ruins and enough off-world accounts to retire me to the beaches of Pentaxico Two where the ladies, so I'm told, are very fond of...metal."

The Doctor reared back, indignant at the man's self centered callousness. "So that's the plan. A retirement plan. 2000 on this ship, 6 billion underneath us, all of them slaughtered. And why? Because Max Capricorn is a loser."

"I never lose," Max growled.

"You can't even sink the Titanic," the Doctor scoffed.

"Oh, but I can, Doctor. I can cancel the engines from here."

Around them, alarms began to sound.

"You can't do this!" the Doctor shouted.

Max turned away, coldly indifferent. "Host, hold him."

Two Host grabbed the Doctor by the arms and pulled him away.

"Not so clever now, Doctor. A shame we couldn't work together. You're rather good. All that banter yet not a word wasted. Time for me to retire. The Titanic is falling. The sky will burn. Let the Christmas inferno commence. Oh! Oh, Host! Kill him."

As the Host prepared to obey, an engine started, surprising even Rose. A forklift pulls around a corner with Astrid at the controls.

"Mr. Capricorn! I resign."

She put it into gear and drove toward the former man.

Rose burst from her hiding spot, crying out at the same time as the Doctor, "Astrid, don't!"

The woman lifted the front of Max's life support vehicle just enough so that his tires couldn't move him, but he had enough traction in the back tires to hold her at bay. The Host that had been going to kill the Doctor threw its halo at Astrid instead, missing by inches, but severing something on the forklift.

"He's cut the break line!"

Rose screamed no, but Astrid shook her head and raised the forklift. She plunged both Max and herself off the edge and into the engines.

"Astrid!" Rose cried, rushing to the edge.

The Doctor was right behind her, holding her close as their new friend was lost to them.

The ship began to fall out of orbit then and the Doctor looked around. The Host looked to him, obviously seeing him as the highest authority figure on the ship. He held out his arms to them. "Take us to the bridge, fastest path."

They lifted him by the arms and one raised Rose in a cradling motion and they carried them off through the shaft, bursting through the wall and causing the young man inside to shout and scramble back.

"Deadlock broken," the computer announced.

The Doctor helped Rose to stand and turned. "Ah, Midshipman Frame at last!"

"Uh, but-but the Host!"

He nodded. "Controller dead they divert to the next highest authority and that's me."

"There's nothing we can do. There's no power. The ship's gonna fall."

As if to confirm his statement, the computer announced, "Titanic falling."

The Doctor took the wheel and looked at the young man. "What's your first name?"

"Alonzo."

Grinning gleefully, the Doctor looks back at Rose. "Did you hear that?"

She nodded, moving to his side.

"That's something else I've always wanted to say. Allons-y Alonzo! Whoa!"

The ship lurched dramatically as the Doctor tried to steer. They began to fall straight towards Earth's atmosphere and Mr. Frame screamed. The Doctor fought the wheel and Rose grabbed the nearby railing and held tight, trusting that if anyone could do it, it would be her husband.

An alarm sounded and the Doctor used his foot to check it. The computer showed the impact zone to be somewhere in London.

Rose groaned. "That figures."

The Doctor used the computer to contact the royal palace. "Listen to me! Security Code 771! Now get out of there!"

The computer announced, "Engine active. Engine active."

The Doctor pulled violently back on the wheel sending Frame back against the wall and nearly causing Rose to lose her hold. Straining and bent over backwards, he managed to regain control. The ship barely missed Buckingham Palace. The Doctor gasped, unable to believe his luck.

A few minutes later, once they were out of trouble and safely back in orbit, the Doctor sank into the floor next to Mr. Frame while Rose leaned against a control panel.

"Used the heat of re-entry to fire up the secondary storm drive. Unsinkable, that's me," the Doctor explained.

"We made it," the young man said in awe.

"Not all of us," Rose said sadly, touching the teleport bracelet she still wore.

The Doctor looked up. "Teleport! She was wearing a teleport bracelet!"

He leapt to his feet and grabbed her hand, rushing out the door and toward reception, Mr. Frame following them curiously.

He burst into reception, already holding the sonic screwdriver that he'd reclaimed from his wife. "Mr. Copper, the teleports, have they got emergency settings?"

"I don't know. They should have," the man answered, flustered.

"She fell, Mr. Copper. She fell. What's the emergency code?"

Rose blinked, looking at her bracelet as his meaning clicked.

"Uh, let me see..."

"What the hell are you doing?" Mr. Frame asked, thoroughly confused.

"We can bring her back," Rose said as the Doctor began to work on the teleport.

Mr. Copper looked at the midshipman. "If a passenger has an accident on shore leave and they're still wearing their teleport, their molecules are automatically suspended and held in stasis so that we can just trigger the shift."

"There!" the Doctor cried, standing and turning around.

A glowing, transparent Astrid appeared before them. "I'm falling."

"Only halfway there. Come on," he growled, adjusting the workings.

"I keep falling…"

"Feed back the molecule grid, boost it with the restoration matrix," he said as the teleport sparked. "No, no, no, no! Need more phase containment."

Rose shook her head and laid a hand on the teleportation console. "This time, I'm helping," she said, her voice echoing slightly as her eyes turned to liquid gold.

"No, Rose wait," the Doctor said, moving to stop his wife but seeing it was too late. He did the next best thing and moved Mr. Copper and Mr. Frame away from her, just in case.

"Rose, if you can just link up the surface suspension..." he said softly, worried for her as she tapped into that part of herself that even he didn't understand.

The image of Astrid glowed brighter and began to solidify. With a gasp from both women, and a bright flash, Astrid returned to the ship and Rose collapsed. The Doctor rushed to scoop his wife into his arms as Mr. Copper checked Astrid.

It was some time later when everything settled. Rose woke groggy, but seemingly unharmed and with no memory of exactly what she'd done to save Astrid, who had barely left her side. The Doctor and Mr. Copper managed to get everyone something to eat and drink, and Mr. Frame took care of sending for rescue. The young man returned with a small smile.

"The engines have stabilized. We're holding steady till we get help and I've sent the SOS. A rescue ship should be here within twenty minutes. And they're digging out the records of Max Capricorn. It should be quite a story."

Mr. Copper cringed. "They'll want to talk to all of us, I suppose."

The young, and somewhat naïve man nodded. "I'd have thought so, yeah."

The older man looked to the Doctor. "I think, uh, one or two inconvenient truths might come to light. Still, it's my own fault, and then years in jail is better than dying."

The rattled, self important Rickston approached them. "Doctor...I never said...thank you." He hugged the Doctor, surprising everyone. "The funny thing is...I said Max Capricorn was falling apart. Just before the crash, I ...sold all my shares, transferred them to his rivals. It's made me rich. What do you think of that?"

The Doctor glared at him, obviously wanting to lay into him when Rickston's vone rang, distracting the businessman.

"Salvain? Those shares, I want them triple-bonded and locked," he snapped into the vone, wandering away.

Mr. Copper shook his head. "Of all the people to survive, he's not the one you would have chosen, is he? But if you could choose, Doctor, if you decide who lives and who dies... that would make you a monster."

The Doctor nodded thoughtfully, reaching over the counter and grabbing two bracelets, seeing Astrid and Rose still wearing theirs.

"Mr. Copper..." he said, smirking a bit. "I think you deserve one of these."

The man looked at it then put it on as he realized what was about to happen. The midshipman stood as he saw them, starting to say something. The Doctor merely saluted and teleported them all to the surface before decommissioning the bracelets to prevent being called back.

They headed for the TARDIS, which Rose assured him wasn't far, while she tried to educate Mr. Copper on her home planet.

"So, Great Britain is part of, uh, "Europee" and just across the British Channel you've got Great France and Great Germany," the older man said.

"No, no, it's just - it's just France and Germany. Only Britain is great," the Doctor chuckled.

"Ain't that the truth," Rose commented, still proud of her country of origin.

"Oh, and they're all at war with the continent of Ham-erica?"

"No, well...not yet, uh...could argue that one," the Doctor said as they arrived at their destination. "There she is. Survive anything."

Mr. Copper looked up at the sky. "You know, between you and me, I don't even thing this snow is real. I think this is the ballast from the Titanic's salvage entering the atmosphere."

"Yeah. One of these days it might snow for real," the Doctor said, looking at Rose, remembering a similar conversation not so long ago.

"But will we recognize it?" she quipped, her tongue poking out.

"So, I - I suppose you'll all be off," Mr. Copper said slowly.

Astrid sighed softly.

"The open sky," the Doctor said.

"And, uh, what about me?" he asked. "I'm not really suited to the whole travel thing."

Astrid shifted slightly. "To be honest… it's not something I want to do forever.

Rose nodded at the other woman. "Not many people do. You could both settle here. Earth's a grande place."

"What - what am I supposed to do?"

Remembering something, the Doctor held out a hand to Mr. Copper. "Give me that credit card."

He handed it over at once. "Well, it's just petty cash, spending money. It's all done by computer. I - I didn't really know the currency so I thought a million might cover it."

Rose blinked at him "A million? Pounds?"

He nodded. "Is that enough for trinkets?"

The Doctor chuckled. "Mr. Copper, a million pounds is worth 50 million credits."

The man took a step back. "How much?"

After a quick mental calculation, the Doctor answered, "50 million and 56."

"I - I've got money!" the man gasped, almost laughing.

"Yes, you have," the Doctor smiled, handing the card back. "And Astrid, when you are ready to settle, we'll make sure you're set up."

"I was thinking…" she said. "I do want to see the universe, but maybe, Mr. Copper, you wouldn't mind if I stuck around near you afterward. It would be nice to have a friend who understands a bit, you know?"

"Of course, I will tell people you're my niece," the man laughed. "I can afford to have many nieces now! And a little house. With a garden!"

Rose kissed the older man's cheek. "It might be a couple of years before we bring her back, but you take care and set yourself up comfortably. No messing with governments or anything silly."

"I will make you proud," he vowed, hugging them all.

Rose smiled at the Doctor as they unlocked the TARDIS and brought Astrid inside.

"Oh my vot!" she cried. "It's fantastic!"

The Doctor chuckled. "Yes, she is." He glanced at his wife, who'd settled quietly into the jump seat. "What is it, Rose?"

"I was just thinking…" she said, watching Astrid poke around. "I want to go to school somewhere. Learn about different alien cultures and such. And with Astrid, you could bounce around for a while and I could study…"

He nodded, moving to her side. "You know I hate for us to be apart," he told her. "But I also hate denying you anything. You would end up alone for most of your time, while I skipped through, hurrying to the end."

She nodded. "That's what I hoped you'd do. You've been alone too long, and I'm still fairly young, even for a human. It won't kill me to spend some time working through a degree while you take the short path."

He took her hands, aware that Astrid was trying not to listen. "Are you sure about this?"

Rose nodded. "I love you more than anything. Doing this will make me more of a help to you. I want to be the best possible partner for you, and to do that, I need to know more about the cultures we land in so I don't endanger us. Also, I want to prove to myself I can do it."

He kissed her tenderly. "Then we'll do it. Come along, Astrid. We need to get you a room."

A/N: I really wanted to save Astrid. I thought she had such potential. Also, I'm sorry this took so long. I had to have a surgery, and was too ill to write. I hope it doesn't disappoint. Please leave a review to let me know what you think?