A/N: My new beta reader is a little slow, and I checked today to realise it had been a LONG TIME since I posted a chapter. I've decided that I'm not waiting for the beta on this chapter any longer and imma just post it. So, spelling and grmmar and all things that make good authors will be made a mockery of in this chapter. Onwards! :D
Chapter 14 – Almost a Normal Day
It was only about ten minutes until the threat was gone, and the Doctor and his motley crew of hominids emerged out of what turned out to be a pothole made by some sort of impact collapsed down into a sewer system. They headed back into the radio station – BBC GMR. At least the Doctor knew where he was, now.
Somebody found his leg braces for him, which made him incredibly relieved. After pulling them on and standing up under his own steam for the first time that morning he was finally able to feel like he was in some sort of control of the situation, and began to quiz Aelfric.
"So you've been broadcasting from the radio station?" the Doctor wondered.
"Aye, fréawine," Aelfric replied.
"As we grow, world change around us. We notice disc things. We play discs on machine and it make sound," Aelfric said. "Strange sound. Make us happy."
"You mean music," the Doctor clarified. "So the world has been changing around you?"
"Aye. Ancestors write of roads turn grey, of mountains being built in squares, of strange hard boxes with windows."
"Roads, buildings and cars? They just appeared?"
"So, how are you friends with the giants?" the Doctor wondered.
"We know for many years. Ancestors speak of the giants," Aelfric told him.
"They protect you, then?"
Aelfric nodded. "The invaders come to kill us. But we hide and giants help."
The Doctor frowned. "You mean the people you took me from?"
Aelfric nodded. "Aye, fréawine."
"Then why save me?"
"Time Lord," Aelfric replied simply. "Ancestors see Time Lords one time before. They tell us to pass on message, in case of other Time Lords come. You must see message."
He held out a piece of paper; old, ripped and distorted with age.
The Doctor didn't take it, his eyes wide in disbelief. "Time Lords came here before?"
"Aye, fréawine," he replied, still holding out the paper. "Take message. The ancients passed message down through generations for Time Lord."
The Doctor's eyes dropped to it, swallowing. It wasn't just a piece of paper; it had suddenly become something a whole lot more significant. Something from his home world, written by the hand of someone from his species… maybe even someone he had known personally.
Someone who was dead.
He swallowed, grabbed the paper, and began to read the Gallifreyan writing.
To the next Time Lord,
My name is Kadegrataherzioh from the House of Arpexia, and with me is Hardinadijaki, from the House of Xianthellipse.
We came here to perform the million year maintenance on the shifter, and instead found it had been malfunctioning across the whole of Sol 3's time of existence. Not only has it been taking the life forms we had intended it to, we also found it had been taking the innocents. We have discovered this new world, a Sol 3.2 filled not only with war and hatred, but also with the life and beauty of hominids that shouldn't exist. They have their own world here, and we quickly realised - as you probably have too - the Switch cannot be reset without wiping them from existence. Yet it is the only way to fix the shifter.
We cannot do that. We cannot use the Switch and know we would be killing these hominids. We are not worthy of our Time Lord titles and thus we deserve a final death to save us from the shame of our lack of integrity, a fault which now causes the biggest paradox ever to occur in this galaxy.
We will go west and into the sea, never to return to Gallifrey. But we write this note so we can warn you, reader. We could not bring ourselves to do it. We have failed as Time Lords. The Switch must be reset.
The Doctor looked up, his eyes shining. Aelfric gazed at him, tilting his hairy head.
"Time Lord okay?" he asked, concerned.
"… Yeah," the Doctor croaked, eyes dropping to the note again. Then he suddenly and quite abruptly scrunched it up and threw it straight in the bin, before jumping to his feet and gazing at Aelfric. "Aelfric, can I please DJ your radio for a few minutes?"
"Hopefully everyone has found each other. I've just woken up from a healing coma, I've got no idea where I am or who's here. I just need to get my bearings and I'll try and figure out what to do next. Don't come after me; keep going to the Lake District. I'll meet you there. From the Doctor. PS: Vanaj, look after my friends. They're nothing to do with the humans."
Vanaj finished reading the paper aeroplane message out loud, looking up at his gathered comrades. Finally his gaze rested on Rose.
"Who's they?" he asked. "As in 'they're nothing to do with the humans'?"
"He might mean my mum," Rose supposed.
"So, this Lake District place?" Jux urged, quickly interrupting any pending conversation on the topic.
Vanaj nodded, and looked at Rose again. "D'you know where it is?"
"Sorta," Rose replied, now nearly 98 percent convinced that they weren't going to kill her. "If we head north towards Carlisle we should see a signpost or somethin'."
"Won't know until we try," Jux grated, and walked straight out of the door with Tex and G'uj in tow.
Vanaj offered Rose an apologetic smile. "Sorry for not believing you for a minute there."
Rose shrugged, smiling. "S'alright, I wouldn't have believed me either."
Vanaj laughed, and moved over to help her walk out of the door.
Jackie and Jack were in Jack's black SUV and heading straight for Coventry.
Jackie had to admit, after the initial shock of being apprehended by a strange man in a forest, she was now really beginning to like him. He was good looking, charming, good looking, charismatic, good looking, had a car, good looking, and not to mention he had a gun. Which in Jackie's book right now was a good thing – a very good thing. Plus this car was quite James Bond with all its gadgets and bulletproof glass and whatnot, which was even better.
For the first time since they'd all been thrown onto this world, she felt very safe. She wished she knew Rose felt the same way too.
"So there I was, hangin' a bauble on the tree and suddenly 'e turns up, crashin' that ship of his right in the street. He came out, wished me Merry Christmas and collapsed. But his face was different, he'd lost the accent," Jackie explained, munching her way through some sandwiches from Tesco. She'd insisted on leaving change to pay for it.
Jack frowned. "Regeneration? I always thought that was a myth."
Jackie shrugged. "Whatever it was, it freaked Rose right out. Then he just sorta did his alien thing and she went all clingy to 'im again. I've got no idea what she sees in him, to be honest. Every time I see 'im I nearly get killed."
Jack smiled a little to himself. "No idea," he said agreed, and turned onto the M1.
The radio suddenly began to buzz, trying to tune itself to a frequency. Jack frowned, pulling to stop to stare at it.
"That shouldn't be happening…"
The frequency fixed on 95.1FM and the end of Your Mother Should Know by The Beatles faded out.
"Hey, you're listening to Out Of Sync FM on 95.1 and 104.6, this is DJ Doctor Fresh spinning your tunes! Later we'll be talking alien life forms – love 'em or hate 'em? We've got Xyclax the Polaxian in the studio to answer your questions! But first, a shout out for Jack Harkness from the Doctor, asking, 'are you there! Please use this frequency!'. We've got the news coming up at one o'clock, but first, Kylie! You're listening to DJ Doctor Fresh on 95.1 and 104.6, Out Of Sync FM! I wanna funk! I wanna f-f-u-f-u-n-k! I wanna funk! I wanna funk! I wanna f-f-u-f-u-n-k!"
"I don't believe it," Jackie whispered, her eyes wide. "He's got time to play DJ?!"
Jack was just laughing, bringing out his communicator and adjusting the frequency to 95.1FM.
"Calling DJ Doctor Fresh, come in, this is Captain Jack Harkness! Do you read me, Mr Fresh?"
"Loud and clear, Captain! That was lucky. Where are you?"
"D'you know where Rose is?"
"Coventry," Jack replied. "She's with the aliens, she says she's okay."
"Don't ask about me, then!" Jackie muttered, arms folded indignantly.
"Oh... Hello, Jackie."
Jackie snatched the communicator out of Jack's hand. "Don't you 'oh hello Jackie' me!" she screamed right into it. "I'm bloody sick of you! Sort this out right now or I'm gonna kill you!"
"... Keeping well, then?" the Doctor tried.
Jackie looked about ready to burst so Jack pre-emptively took the communicator back. "We're heading to Coventry to find Rose."
"No, you aren't," the Doctor replied quickly. "Go to the Lake District, Rose is already heading there. Pick me up on the way, I'm at BBC GMR. We just need to all get in one place then I can figure out what to do next."
"What about Sarah?"
"She's fine in Cardiff for the moment."
Jack's brow furrowed slightly. "... You sound worried."
Jack sighed a little, but chose not to pursue it. "Okay. We'll be in Manchester in a few hours. Take care."
"When you can't find the music, to get down and boogie, all you can do is… step back in time! Ball of confusion, when nothing is new, and, there's nothing doin', step back in time!" the radio buzzed.
The transmission ended, and Leo leant back with his arms behind his head, beaming from ear-to-ear with a lot of humans staring at him.
"Beautiful. Seriously, that's like... That's like fucking poetry."
"Sir?" one of the people wondered.
Leo's smile widened. "Hold on, no, I just need a moment. A moment to just admire how damn good I am. I'm fucking Jesus Christ, I swear."
There was about thirty seconds of silence as Leo closed his eyes, grinning widely to himself. After that he snapped open his eyes again, and stared at his crowd.
"Well c'mon, ask me what I fucking did, then!"
"… What did you do?" a woman asked quietly.
"Bugged the old woman!" Leo exclaimed, arms in the air. "I can fucking hear everything she's goddamn doing and you know what? The Time Lord is at GMR! And you know what's even better? I have people in Liverpool! We've got him, we've fucking got him!"
He leant forward to the radio, and switched the channel to the Liverpool HQ. "Hey guys, Leo here… Shut up and fucking listen. Got a mission for you."
For the three hours whilst the Doctor waited for Jack and Jackie he managed to find a shower and some new clothes to put on. This was getting ridiculous. He'd never had to shower this much before, and his clothes seemed to get ripped and burned and worn and dirtied before he'd even he put them on in this world. Not to mention the new-found trials and tribulations of trying to get an outfit that actually fitted this crazily proportioned new body of his.
It was pretty unfair, he thought. Romana had had complete control over her regenerations, but every time he did it he had no idea what was coming. There was of course no point crying over spilt milk, and Rose did seem to constantly accidentally get her hands in his hair now a lot more often than before… But it would be nice not to have to go back to the same clothes shop to get refitted every single time.
But eventually after hours of searching the surrounding houses he found some new clothes that vaguely fitted: some jeans that were slightly too short for his new, stupidly long legs as no one had actually had his size; a t-shirt under a cashmere black jumper that tried to crush his lungs every time he breathed; and a pair of the only clean shoes around, which happened to be trainers in a ridiculous glow-in-the-dark bright neon orange that looked like the owner had had them as a Christmas present, worn them once to be polite and shoved them to the back of the cupboard pretending they'd lost them.
When he was finally dressed and had borrowed someone's razor to have a shave it was nearing 4 o'clock, and Jack and Jackie would be there soon. So he headed back to the GMR building to bid good bye to Aelfric.
"Thank you so much, Aelfric," he said sincerely to the Neanderthal.
"You not stay?" Aelfric asked, concerned. "We keep you safe, Time Lord."
"Thanks, but no thanks," the Doctor replied, offering an apologetic smile. "I need to sort this mess out. But thank you for everything."
"Okay," Aelfric said, raising a smile. "Wherever you go now, we wish you luck."
"Thank you," the Doctor replied, smiling in return.
"Aelfric," a habilus man said suddenly, peering out of the window. "Invaders in metal box come from distance."
"It's okay," the Doctor said, holding up his hand. "They're my friends."
Aelfric nodded. "Okay," he said again.
The Doctor nodded courteously. "One more thing," he said, and held up a CD. "Could you please play this album on repeat from tomorrow for a few days?"
Aelfric took the CD, confused. "Why?"
"Just need to check you're all right."
"Aye, fréawine," Aelfric replied, looking at the album in his hands. "Good bye, fréawine."
"Good bye," the Doctor replied, and left.
Jackie saw him first, standing there like a lost lamb outside the entrance to the BBC GMR. Her eyes were instantly drawn to his shoes.
"What the 'ell is he wearin'?" Jackie muttered.
"That's the Doctor?" Jack asked, frowning. "He's… skinny."
"I know," Jackie sighed.
"But strangely attractive."
Jackie looked at him. "Oh, bloody hell. You're not, are you?"
Jack just grinned at that as they pulled up next to him, bringing down the window and sticking his head out.
"We're heading to the Lake District, need a lift?" he joked.
The Time Lord spread a smile. "Yeah, thanks." He paused. "… It's good to see you."
"You too," Jack replied, matching his smile.
"Um, hello!" Jackie said, trying to bring the attention to her.
The Doctor broadened his smile even more. "Hello, Jackie!" he said as happily as he could. "I'll get in, shall I?" he said quickly to avoid a conversation with her, and dived for the back door. Just as he was reaching for the handle he suddenly heard a small 'pft', a high-pitched whistling sound and he turned just in time to find a small dart embed itself in his arm.
Almost instantly the world began to merge and warped, compressing together in a fusion of blur and colours. He very quickly realised he'd been tranquillised.
The others were saying things but the words didn't seem to make sense to him. That didn't matter. He solely concentrated on fumbling for the door handle to get inside the car. But even that was impossible as he approached the task like a drunk trying to get through his front door after a particularly long night of drinking; fumbling and grasping with utterly no sense of co-ordination whatsoever.
Then his arm went dead, quickly followed by the rest of him. He soundlessly collapsed into a puddle of numbness on the concrete.
"Not again!" Jackie wailed as Jack bolted out of the car, gun already in hand. But he didn't even have the opportunity to dive for the Doctor as a hairy animal with wings and fangs about the size of his SUV bounded up and ploughed straight into him.
Jackie screamed in horror. "Jack! Doctor!" she wailed, desperately wanting to help, or run away, or faint, or possibly all of those things at the same time. But she could only watch, transfixed with horror as another one of the animals ran up to the Doctor and grabbed his leg between his teeth, dragging him back across the grass to a crowd of about a dozen humans waiting in the forest.
"No!" she exclaimed, realising what that meant. Leo would have the Doctor. But there was utterly nothing she could do about that. Jack had finally passed out. The creature grabbed him too and dragged him off into the undergrowth, the gun left abandoned on the floor.
It was over in forty seconds, and Jackie was left alone.
She had to take some deep, measured breaths to try and calm herself down, trying to process the situation in her head. Within minute she'd gone from having probably the best two people to have with her in this situation to having no one at all.
Well, she couldn't just sit here and be hysterical. That was very clear.
She got out of the SUV, picked up the gun and got back in the driver's door. She then put the car into gear, dropped the handbrake and drove off to find Rose and the murderous, human-hating aliens.
It was slightly troubling her that it was almost beginning to seem like a completely normal day.