Sorry, sorry, sorry. I know that this took much longer than I anticipated but things have gone haywire at work, huge remodel and shifting work stations. It could take a couple months for the dust to settle, so those stolen moments at work where I could type a few hundred words are now nonexistent. And then I was trying to force this in a different direction and it kept blocking me. So when I did have time to write I was blocked and when I wasn't blocked I had no time to write.
I'll get to the next chapter as soon as I can. I'm thinking that there are going to be maybe eight chapters left in this story. Then at least one more story, maybe two in this verse. Big thanks to lastincurableromantic for all on her support and to twinesstar for the gentle kick in the pants I needed to write this chapter.
Amelia Tyler-Pond tossed and turned, unable to sleep. She had waited far longer than five and a half hours to be rescued from this place. In the back of her mind she was constantly running through escape plans; when the guards did rounds she made note. But she knew that she couldn't escape on her own. The Silence kept them separate for all but a scant few hours a day for just that reason.
She knew she needed sleep so she could be wide awake for the few precious moment she would get tomorrow with her daughter. But she couldn't sleep. Every time she closed her eyes, she was overwhelmed by images of the past few months. Images seen by eyes that were not her own, of things that she had not personally experienced. No, she hadn't actually been to Utah or 1969. She had not been in London to deal with the 456 or even at the monastery in the 22nd century. She shuddered, thinking about the last adventure she'd had before realizing that she wasn't really with her family.
Her hand had ached from how tightly Rory had gripped it ever since she had woken up that morning. And when they had arrived at the acid factory, Rory had refused to let her out of his sight. Amy had known that something was bothering him. She had known that something was in fact very, very wrong. But when she had tried to call him on it, he just hugged her tightly, had told her how much he loved her and promised that everything would be better soon.
More than anything, Amy hated being placated. She was more than capable of handling whatever was going on. Or at least she thought that she was capable of handling everything this life could throw at her. Now she wasn't so sure.
But at the time she had felt very upset that her husband wasn't telling her everything. At first she had thought that maybe he was still upset about the family row about his and Dad's behavior towards Jenny and Sabrina. No, they had talked after she came back to the hotel, worked through everything. And if there was one thing they were good at in their marriage, it was communicating (Well, they were also very, very good at another thing, but she didn't want to think about the implications of that over the last few months.)
At the time, she had felt like he was shutting her out. In fact, he had been shutting her out and he had been keeping something from her. The four of them, Mum, Dad, Jenny and Rory, had been keeping a huge secret from her. She thought that she could understand why, really she could. The pain was still there, though. Maybe once she was back in Rory's arms and she could see her family again the dull ache that was now almost permanently settled in her chest would begin to ease.
She rolled over and her mind wandered back to the first time they had gone to the room that they used to create the Flesh Avatars. Dad had used the psychic paper to explain that they were a group of meteorologists there about the solar storms. Amy tried to hide a half smile, she'd always loved that a little bit of charm and a flash of whatever a person wanted to see and they were in.
At the monastery being 'in' meant being taken to the most secure part of the factory. The family and all of the staff, Jimmy, Buzzer, Jennifer and Dicken gathered in the room along with the leader of the acid factory workers, a woman named Miranda Cleaves. She had explained what the process of making the avatars entailed.
"Once a reading's been taken we can manipulate its molecular structure into anything," Cleaves explained in a detached manner. "Replicate a living organism down to the hairs in its chinny chin chin. Even clothes. And everything's identical. Eyes, voice—"
"Mind, soul," Dad swallowed hard as he spoke. Amy could see how hard this was for him, but she hadn't understood why at the time.
"Don't be fooled, Doctor," Cleaves sneered. "It acts like life but it still needs to be controlled by us. From those harnesses you saw."
"Wait," Sabrina said in confusion. "So you're a Ganger now?"
"No, love, I'm back in the harness. All of us are, except Jennifer here," Cleaves clarified. "This is just a bit like driving a forklift truck."
"Breathe, Amy," Mum instructed.
Amy felt perplexed but she agreed and Rory pulled her over to a control panel. He and Jenny set about examining the controls.
"Breathe, Amy," Jenny whispered.
"Why?" Amy asked.
Her sister-in-law squeezed her hand. "We'll explain later, when we're done here. For now, just trust us."
And Amy had trusted them. She hadn't known why they kept telling her to breathe, but every time they said it she did. It had made things slightly easier later.
The factory workers continued to explain how the Gangers were simply throwaway bodies. So it didn't matter if a Ganger got hurt or was destroyed. They could simply make a new one and keep on working. This was something that didn't sit right with any of the Tylers, if the expressions on their faces were anything to go by. Cleaves had then told Jennifer that she wanted her back in her ganger.
Dad pulled out his sonic screwdriver and began to scan the contents of the vat. Mum was peering over his shoulder. Amy somehow detached herself from her barnacle of a husband and came to stand near Sabrina. Then a bubble of the flesh matrix seemed to reach out towards Dad's sonic screwdriver. He began to tremble slightly. Mum grabbed his shoulder but he gently shook her off.
Then it just stopped the flesh matrix retreated back into the vat. "Strange," Dad said. "It was like... For a moment there it was scanning me."
"Are you alright?" Mum asked.
He kissed her forehead. "I'm fine, love. I just need to know more." And with that he placed a flat palm against the top of the flesh, letting it sink down ever so slightly. Then he started quivering worse than before.
"Doctor. Get back, Doctor," Cleaves demanded, "leave it alone!"
"I understand." Dad pulled his hand back and his eyes flickered between the vat, Mum and Amy herself. "Incredible! You have no idea." His eyes were wide as he spoke. "No idea. I mean, I felt it in my mind. I reached out to it. And it to me."
Mum had clenched his hand tightly.
Cleaves had rolled her eyes. "Don't fiddle with the money, Doctor."
"How can you be so blinkered? It's alive, so alive. You're planting your lives—your personalities—directly into it." Mum sounded indignant as she spoke. "They are people and you keep sending them to their deaths. Over and over again, it's barbaric."
"That's enough, Mrs. Tyler." Cleaves snapped. "They cannot survive without the connection to us. Now watch as we build a new Ganger."
At that moment the flesh matrix began to bubble and then take a humanoid shape. The face started out waxy and without distinct features. Amy noticed Jenny grab Mum's arm. Then a fully formed exact replica of Jennifer sat up. Rory's hand tightened on hers, but when Amy tried to ask him something telepathically, she was completely blocked out.
"Well, I can see why you keep it in the church," Dad deadpanned, his knuckles going white as it gripped the edge of the vat. "Miracle of life."
Rory wrapped an arm protectively around Amy's waist at that point.
Amy understood now that Rory had been frightened for the safety of their own miracle, somewhere out there he was probably still frightened for her, their baby. The one that Amy knew about but that Rory had yet to meet. The baby he still didn't know was a girl.
It made her sick when she thought about their situation, that she still didn't know what was planned for her and the baby, and what if Rory never got to meet Melody? Would he like her name? Surely, he would love their daughter, no matter what. Where was he now? On his way for sure but she wondered what was taking so long.
She stifled a sob and turned to lay flat on her back. As much as it hurt to think of the family, it helped her to remember the ones that would come for her and Melody. Pushing away the thoughts of her current situation, she forced her mind back to the adventure in the monastery.
After that there had been a flare of the solar storm. Dad had tried to stop it. He'd taken Mum with him to the weather vane. Not that it had done much good; they had all still ended up unconscious for more than an hour. And when they had woken up they found out that the Gangers had, for lack of a better term, had gone walkabout.
Jennifer's Ganger had seemed to be quite attached to Sabrina and Sabrina had seemed to be very protective of her. Now, this seemed ironic. Since, other than Amy herself, Sabrina was the only other one who hadn't known the reason for this field trip.
After Jennifer and Sabrina had rejoined the group, Amy had seen the Eye Patch Lady that she now knew was Madame Kovarian. That face would haunt her nightmares for the rest of her life. But back in the monastery, Mum and Dad had somehow managed to convince the Gangers and the Humans to engage in peace talks.
"Alright, Doctor, Rose," Cleaves' Ganger said tartly. "You've brought us together. Now what?"
"Now we help everyone to see what the Gangers truly are?" Mum retorted. "And there are no people in the Universe more qualified to understand the Gangers."
"And what exactly do you think that is?" Jimmy asked.
Mum stood beside Dad, as he sat down on a bench and began to talk. "The Flesh was never merely moss. These are not copies. The storm has hardwired them. They are becoming people."
"With souls," Jimmy said mockingly.
"Well, we were all jelly once. Little jelly eggs, sitting in goo," Dad said with a grin.
"Not me," Jenny replied with a cocky smile.. "I was born just like this, a fully formed adult."
"Exactly," Mum agreed. "Being born from a womb doesn't make you real. It's the ability to think and act for yourself and the Gangers can do that."
"So exactly what is she?" Ganger Cleaves asked. "A clone?"
"Is she even real?" Buzzer asked eyeing Jenny up and down. "Or is she just a thing, too?"
"No," Rory growled. "She was progenated, and she's my sister and every bit as real as anyone in this room."
Dad nodded and smiled brightly at Jenny and Rory before turning back to the factory workers. "We are not talking about an accident that needs to be mopped up. We are talking about sacred life. Do you understand? Good. Now the TARDIS is trapped in an acid pool. Once I can reach her I can get you all off this island. Humans and Gangers. Eh? How does that sound?"
Jimmy grinned. "I can make it home for Adam's birthday."
"What about me?" Jimmy's Ganger asked. "He's my son, too."
"You?" Human Jimmy scoffed. "You really think that?"
"I feel it," the other Jimmy responded.
Before the Human Jimmy could respond, Mum cut him off. "Look, I know this is a right mess but this is exactly the point. If you give your thoughts, feelings and experiences over to someone else they become you." Dad's shoulders tensed and his jaw set. This must be such a touchy subject for the two of them.
In more ways than one, Amy thought a little bitterly as she punched her pillow trying to get comfortable. Dad's creation, the brown-eyed metacrisis Dad, had caused the green-eyed Dad heartache for almost two years. He thought that the woman he loved had been lost to another version of himself. And how difficult must that be to lose Mum to another you. Then there was the fact that at the time four of them knew exactly what had happened to her, and they loved her just the same as if she was really there. A tear slipped down Amy's cheek as she thought about what her absence, and the presence of her Ganger, must have done to her husband.
"Oh, and you would know all about that, would you now?" Dicken asked.
"As a matter of fact I do, more than you will ever know." Mum sighed. "It's a bit, okay, a lot more complicated than the creation of a Ganger, but the Doctor was split into two people once. Both had the same memories, same experience…"
"The same love for Rose," Dad murmured and Mum squeezed his shoulder.
"And I had to make the choice between this Doctor, the original you could say and the other one, exact same man just with a slightly different biology. I couldn't stay with both of them, I loved them both, but I only had a split second to decide." Mum wiped a tear from her eye. "It was tough, but I made my choice." Mum's smile faltered slightly and Amy knew that her heart was aching for Dad with the sticky uppy hair and the brown eyes, her husband.
"Exactly, you picked the original." Ganger Cleaves rolled her eyes. "Spare us the sob story, Rose, when all you did was throw away the one you saw as a copy."
Mum was furious now. "Don't you dare talk about my husband that way. I didn't pick this Doctor. I married the one created by the metacrisis and for more than twenty years we were happy. We raised three beautiful children, and we invited their friends into our lives. Before he died, life was perfect."
Dad stood up and wrapped an arm around her waist. "You don't need to do this."
Shaking her head, Mum said, "But I do. Look, to me there was absolutely no difference between the Doctor I married and the Doctor here with me now. It's going to be difficult to integrate two of you into one life, but we can find a way to make it work. I promise."
Pulling his arm out from around Mum's, Dad clapped his hands together. "Good. Right. First step is we get everyone together then get everyone safe. Then get everyone out of here."
"Cleaves and Jennifer are still missing," Jimmy said, looking around.
The Ganger Jimmy stepped forward. "I'll help you, if that's alright. Two sets of eyes are better than one."
Just then, the human Cleaves stepped into the room holding some sort of probe. "This circus has gone on long enough!"
"Oh, great. You see, that is just so typically me," her Ganger said with a roll of the eyes.
"Doctor, tell it to shut up," the Human woman demanded.
"Cleaves, no. No! No," Dad practically begged as he pushed Mum behind him. Sabrina blocked both Jenny and Jennifer with her body, obviously not sure if Cleaves had heard the part about Jenny's progenation. Rory, of course, kept Amy behind him.
Cleaves smirked as she held up the device in her hand. "Circuit probe. Fires about, oh, thirty thousand volts? Would kill any one of us so I guess she'll work on Gangers just the same."
Rory laughed. "You know what's interesting? You refer to them as 'it', but you call a glorified cattle prod a 'she'."
"When the real people are safely off this island then I'll happily talk philosophy over a pint with you, and your whole family." Cleaves advanced on the group again.
"What are you going to do to them?" Amy asked.
Cleaves tensed. "Sorry. They're monsters. Mistakes. They have to be destroyed."
What happened next was a blur of activity, Dad, Mum and Rory yelling at Cleaves, the Ganger Cleaves almost taunting her human counterpart. And when all was said and done the Buzzer Ganger lay dead on the floor. The remaining Gangers backed quickly out of the room. Sabrina had made to go after Jennifer but Rory stopped her.
Mum and Dad knelt beside Buzzer's body and had tried to make Cleaves understand what she'd done. But the woman had stubbornly felt justified in her actions.
"If it's war, then it's war," Cleaves stated tersely. "You don't get it, Doctor. I don't care what you and the rest of these people think you know about our situation. It's not the same. Right here, right now, it's us and them."
Dad's gaze hardened and he snapped his fingers. "The most fortified and defendable room in the monastery. Cleaves! The most fortified and defendable room in the monastery?"
"The chapel. Only one way in, stone walls two feet thick."
The Oncoming Storm raged in Dad's eyes. "You've crossed one hell of a line, Cleaves; you've killed one of them. They're coming back. In a big way."
Mum led the way with Amy, Rory and the factory workers following close behind. Dad brought up the rear herding Sabrina and Jenny along. They had almost made it to the church when somewhere in the distance, Jennifer screamed. Sabrina jerked in the direction of the noise.
Dad shook his head. "Sabrina Tyler, no way. Get in there."
"Jen's out there alone, Dad. The human one, I have to go and find her. If the Gangers get there first… I won't let them hurt her," Sabrina said firmly. "I can't just leave her alone out there, and I know you of all people understand that."
Dad nodded. "Jenny, go with her." He tapped his temple. "But let me know if anything and I mean anything goes wrong. You know what's at stake here."
"Got it," Jenny said and she pulled Sabrina along the passage. Just as they ducked out of sight the Gangers came into view. Dad hurried through the doorway and slammed the door shut. Jimmy, Cleaves and Dicken began to barricade the door.
A voice from the other side of the room moaned, "Why! Why!"
Dad stepped forward and said, "Show yourself. Show yourself!"
From the entry way, Jimmy laughed. "This is insane. We're fighting ourselves."
"Yes, it's insane," Dad agreed. "And it's about to get even more insanerer. Is that a word?"
" 'Fraid not, love," Mum replied.
Dad nodded and said, "Show yourself! Right now!"
"Doctor," Mum said clutching Dad's arm, "What's going on? We're stuck on this island and the only one not accounted for is Jennifer."
A figure stepped out of the shadows and while the features weren't distinctive yet the clothing was. "Correctively respect, Rose Tyler. It's frightening. Unexpected. Frankly, a total utter splattering mess on the carpet. But I am certain—one hundred percent certain—that we can work this out. Trust me. I'm the Doctor."
Mum shook her head in exasperation and then she smiled. "Are we really going to do this again, Doctor?"
The Ganger straightened his bow tie. "It seems we shall, love."