A/N: Hello, everyone. New chapter's up. It's a bit short this time, but I had some trouble writing. Writer's block is a jerk, isn't it? Anyway, I'm just going to stop apoligizing for waits now because I feel like at this point, it goes without saying. I hope you like this chapter, and please review.
Chapter 7: Making Plans
Amy and Rory's feet clanged against the metal floor as they awkwardly sped through the halls of the Pitastrangalorithoris ship with a half-conscious John in their arms. The hisses and clicks of the aliens behind them were definitely getting closer. Amy's heart felt like it was beating in her throat as the feeling of panic began to boil in her stomach.
They're getting closer, she though frantically. Oh, Lord, they're getting closer! As she and Rory passed a fork in the hallway, Amy felt a hand grip her shoulder. She stifled a scream as she was yanked into the smaller, darker hallway, dragging Rory and John in after her.
"Shush," whispered a voice in her ear. Amy sighed as she recognized it as the Doctor's. Soon, she saw a small group of Pitastrangalorithorises scuttle down the hall in the direction that the companions were originally running. Once she was sure that they were a safe difference away, Amy turned to face her friend.
"Are you OK?" he asked, a look of concern in his eyes as he scanned her body for any immediate signs of injury.
"Yeah, we're fine," Rory responded.
"What about John? John?" Rose shoved past the Doctor to get a better look at her husband. John managed to give her a shaky smile before doubling over and vomiting on the floor and the tips of his red trainers. Rose's eyes widened in alarm and she rushed to his side. "What's wrong with him?" she demanded, kneeling next to him.
"He might have a slight concussion," Rory said delicately.
"A concussion?" Rose breathed quickly, almost hysterically. "John? John, can you hear me? How many fingers am I holding up?" She held up three fingers.
John heaved up the last of his sick and glanced up at his wife. His face was sickly yellow, like curdled milk. "Three," he huffed. "And you don't have to worry about me. I'm fine."
"Says the man who just puked up his last two meals," Amy muttered. Rory threw her a look that clearly read, not now. We don't have enough time.
John straightened his back with a groan and wiped his mouth with the sleeve of his suit. "How did you find us?" he asked Rose.
The Doctor answered, "We tried to teleport the TARDIS onto the ship. It was supposed to appear right next to us, but when it didn't, we figured something was wrong. We went looking for you guys, but ran into some unwelcome company along the way."
"Wait – did you say you tried to teleport us? How did you get control over the device?" Rory asked.
"There's a telepathic control system that spreads through the whole ship," explained the Doctor. "Once I got past the firewall, it was elementary. What were you doing trying to fly my TARDIS when she clearly wasn't repaired yet?" he finished, raising an eyebrow.
"Trying to find you," Amy returned. "For all we knew, you could've been about to get your head chopped off."
"Enough of this!" John snapped. "Honestly, you two are giving me a headache." He regarded the Doctor. "You said you were able to access the mainframe. Did you find anything that might be useful?"
The Doctor looked like he wanted to continue talking with Amy, but after a brief hesitation, he turned to John. "I found everything useful. I know the entire layout of the ship, and how to fly it."
"Good." John glanced at his watch. "We have about an hour and a half left," he said with a grin. "We might even have time to spare."
Rose made a face. "Not exactly," she said.
John gave his wife a wary look. "What do you mean, 'not exactly'?"
Rose looked at the Doctor, who was frowning. "Well…" he said. "The thing about the navigation room… It happens to be right next to the Room of Judgment."
Amy sighed. She had no idea what a "Room of Judgment" was, but she could guess it wasn't good.
"And what, do tell, is a Room of Judgment?" John asked.
"It's like a courtroom," Rose answered. "Before we escaped, the Pitastrangalorithorises said that they were going to take me to meet their Supreme."
"What's a Supreme? Like a king?" Amy asked.
"No. It's a lot more," the Doctor responded. "The Pitastrangalorithorises don't believe in any non-physical higher being. They appoint a leader for their different groups, and that leader is like a god to them. They follow them without question. It's like the relationship between an ant colony and their queen. They'd lay down their lives for their Supreme, and if they feel that it's in any form of danger, they'll fight to the last man standing."
"You know what? Don't even tell me. I'm just going to guess that the Supreme is in the Room of Judgment, and we'll have to get through there in order to fly the ship," said Rory.
"How'd you guess?" asked the Doctor.
"Because nothing's ever simple with you. There's always got to be some sort of alien god trying to kill us," said Rory.
"That is how it appears, isn't it?" said Rose sympathetically.
"How do you suppose we solve this, then? Doctor? John?" Amy asked. They all turned to the two expectantly.
The Doctor looked at John. Every new wrinkle and age mark seemed to stand out like a sore thumb. Time-Lords never age. They never grew older. One could look at a 20-year-old Time-Lord and a 20,000-year old, and they'd look the same, but John was human. The Doctor could see the effect that years had had on him. He could even see a few of his dark-brown hairs turning gray. It was the same thing that he had seen in his past companions. They'd get old and frail and weak, and he'd just stay the same. The thought made the Doctor frown. He would never be able to get married, and start a family, and grow old with someone. That was the one adventure he couldn't have. And now Rose was living it. Why would he want to take that away from her?
"Doctor? What do we do?" Amy repeated.
"Well, I don't see much of a choice," he answered, looking back at his friend. "In an hour and 30 minutes, the walls of the universe will break down and we'll all be crushed into dust."
"Everybody's just being so positive today," said John. "Unfortunately, he's right. If that's the only way to get to the navigation room, then that's the way we'll go."
"You don't have to come," said Rose. John raised an eyebrow at her. "I mean," she continued, "you've got a concussion. It probably won't take all of us to pull this off. If you want to wait in the TARDIS…" She trailed off.
"And what about you? Where will you be?" John said softly. Rose didn't answer. "No," he said finally. "I'm not going to abandon any of you, concussion or not. If there's some way that I can help, then I'm going."
"John…" Rose's voice was full of concern. John reached down and grasped her hand firmly. He stared into her eyes intently, and said, "I'm not leaving you."
They stood there for a second, staring into each other's eyes, and the Doctor cleared his throat awkwardly. "Right," he said. "We all love each other very much, now let's go." He spun on his heels and marched down the hallway, with Amy and Rory close behind. John and Rose looked at each other a second longer, and followed their friends.
Rose Tyler felt awful.
While she was making kissy faces with the Doctor, John – her husband – had risked his life to find her, and had gotten a concussion because of it. What kind of wife was she?
She looked at him now. Though he tried to hide it, it was clear that he was in pain. He half-walked, half-staggered down the hallway. He was still holding her hand. At first, Rose had thought it was to comfort her, but now she realized that he was using her for support. His face was pale and moist with perspiration. She glanced at the top of his head, which was wrapped in gauze. The sight of her husband, who would go to the ends of the universe for her, in such discomfort made her throat feel like it was closing up.
"Are you sure you're OK?" she said quietly to him.
He gave another dry cough before answering. "Yes, I'm sure. Honestly, stop worrying about me. I'm fine."
"Don't be stupid. You're not fine," she said, with a bit more sting in her voice than she intended.
John looked at her, irritated. "Why are you mad at me? Yes, I have a slight concussion. Yes, it's not the most comfortable experience of my life. But that's no reason to act all snappy at me."
"I am not acting snappy!" she snapped. John raised an eyebrow. Rose sighed after a moment. "I'm sorry," she said. "It's just…sometimes I worry about you."
John raised an eyebrow. Was that guilt he heard in her voice?
"Anyway," Rose said quickly, "it doesn't even matter, because it's obvious that you're not changing your mind. So let's just focus on closing that crack, and worry about other stuff later."
"Sounds like a plan, love," said John. He squeezed her hand comfortingly. His affection just added to Rose's already massive pile of guilt.
The Doctor stopped and signaled for the others to do the same. "Shh," he said. Very slowly, he peered around a corner. A long line of Pitastrangalorithorises were scuttling down the hallway. Some carried containers filled with a watery black liquid. Others carried small, dead animals that looked like a cross between insects and reptiles.
"What is that?" Amy whispered.
"Food, I'm guessing," the Doctor replied. "They're bringing food to their master."
"What, the Supreme?"
"Yes," he said. "And I'll tell you what, Amelia Pond, you're not going to enjoy what happens next."
"Why? What happens next?" she said, alarm growing in her tone.
"Well, we're going to follow them. And then," said the Doctor, "we're going to be executed."
His sentence was met by silence. He looked back at his friends. Amy and John were staring at him darkly, while Rory and Rose had their mouths half-open in shock. "You're leading us to our certain deaths?" said Rose.
"No, not you," he said. "Nor you, John. Just Amy, Rory, and I. We're the ones that trespassed their air-space. We're going to our deaths. You're going to the navigation room."
"And how are we going to do that?" asked Rory.
"Well, I'll tell you, but first, I have to know," he said, "do you trust me?"
"With my life," Rose said automatically. John raised an eyebrow at her.
"And mine," Amy said. Rory nodded in agreement.
"That's all well and good, but what about you, John?" said the Doctor, turning to look at him. There was a moment of silence when John looked at the Doctor almost cautiously, as if he were a bomb about to blow. John looked between Rose and the Doctor, narrowing his eyes. There was something they weren't telling him, he could tell. What it was, he could only imagine. But he had a pretty big imagination, and he didn't like what came to mind.
"John," the Doctor repeated. "Do you trust me?"
John cleared his throat. "Well, it would be pretty daft if I didn't trust myself, wouldn't it?" he said.
"Daft, but possible. Now, let me ask again – do you trust me?" The Doctor looked at John intently, as if he was trying to read him.
John smiled, though it was obvious that he was anything but happy. "Yes," he said finally. "Yes, I do."
The Doctor smiled and regarded the group. "Right," he said, rubbing his hands together. "Here's the plan."