Time and the Trickster
Chapter Twenty-Three: Becket Enterprises: Radiation Alert
Disclaimer: I do not own Doctor Who or any of the spinoff material and I gain no income off of this story, just the satisfaction of playing with the characters.
Jumping to her feet, Rose lunged towards the doorway as she screamed, "Mickey!"
An arm wrapped around her out of nowhere and pulled her back sharply. Rose struggled against the grip for a moment in a blind panic to get to Mickey before her senses caught up and she became aware of UNIT staff rushing around her. A pair of medics were already gently shifting Richard onto a stretcher and Captain Magambo was being moved from the doorway.
Turning her head, Rose relaxed slightly as she caught sight of Private Ross' worried, but determined expression. She stopped trying to move towards the doorway and Ross released her slowly, keeping an eye on her as if he didn't trust her. Swallowing, Rose forced herself to step back from the doorway even as she noted that none of the soldiers were entering the room just yet. A warm hand on her shoulder made Rose turn to the right. Kate was giving her a firm, but caring expression.
"Let them do their jobs," Kate told her gently. "And we'll do ours."
Rose managed a nod before she allowed Kate to pull her further back from the room. She noted as they moved away that the light in the room had lessened and now there was just a low blue glow coming from the device.
"Whatever it was it seems to have just been an energy burst," Kate observed as they walked to a table that was being set up with soldiers. Tosh and Malcolm were already opening up metal suitcases with equipment tucked inside. Malcolm looked up at Rose with soft eyes but said nothing after giving her a quick nod. Tucking some hair behind her ear, Rose moved around behind Tosh to look at the sensor arrays that she was pointing towards the doorway.
"There's still some kind of radiation," Tosh observed after a moment. "Not any sort that we have ever seen on Earth, but it definitely there."
The sound of more people moving towards them made Rose look up and she sighed in relief as three figures in radiation suits walked towards the doorway with hand scanners.
"Thank goodness we had the mobile unit here," Malcolm murmured softly to Rose who nodded.
"It's still going off," Tosh announced a moment later.
"Are you certain?" Malcolm questioned as he shifted to study the readouts that Tosh was tracking.
"Not as strong, not nearly," Tosh answered. "But I'm tracking regular low bursts of energy every thirty seconds."
They all glanced at each other and Rose felt bile rise into her throat. "Can we get a camera into the room? Or send the people in the radiation suits in?"
"A camera we can try," Malcolm agreed as he looked over at the three figures who were carefully measuring radiation around the door. "But I can't send those men in without having an idea if they are safe or not." Rose swallowed and nodded despite the desire to protest. This wasn't the time and she was emotionally compromised. She was, in fact, a little surprised that Malcolm hadn't ordered her removed. "Toshiko," Malcolm called, "Are those burst still consistent?"
"Yes," Tosh answered. "But I can report that none of the radiation seems to be getting through the lab walls," she reported. "It's possible that it can only affect organic matter and not metal."
"That is possible," Kate observed. "In explosions, it is the shockwave that causes most of the damage and radiation is an aftereffect."
"Have a sensor put in the same protective covering as the radiation suits," Malcolm told Kate. "Let's see if sending people in is safe."
Kate nodded and turned to walk toward Ross quickly. Rose followed her movements with her eyes for a short time before she turned back to the sensors."
"Any thoughts on where it is still releasing energy?" Rose asked as she pulled out the sonic pen. "Maybe we can shut it down."
"Almost there," Toshiko replied. "If we can get a camera inside then maybe this can work."
Rose nodded and tried to contain her nervous excitement. Turning she caught sight of one of the soldiers bringing a package towards them. He handed it to Malcolm who relaxed slightly and nodded.
"We just need to toss this into the room," Malcolm announced as he motioned one of the men in radiation suits over to him. As he handed off the package Rose noted the rope tied to one end that the man took a hold of. Rose watched silently as the man, she couldn't tell who it was, walked over near the doorway, set the package on the floor and gently kicked it into the room.
"A few minutes should tell us if we can go in," Malcolm told Rose gently.
"I'm alright," Rose said quickly, worried at the tone of Malcolm's voice.
Malcolm nodded to Rose, but she could see that he was still worried. Instead of saying anything or crowding Tosh, Rose moved over with Kate to wait for the results. She leaned against the far wall and crossed her arms across her chest. The older blonde looked over at her with a gentle smile but said nothing and Rose found herself grateful for the silence. Rose closed her eyes and took a few slow breaths to calm down. Briefly, she thought about calling the Doctor, but she had nothing absolute she could tell him yet. Rose forced herself to let out another slow breath, listening to the movement of UNIT personnel in the crowded hallway. Everyone was jammed on one side of the doorway, everyone unwilling to cross in front of it. Rose was briefly grateful to Richard for pulling her to the proper side so she wasn't trapped. Of course, she was grateful to Richard for helping her. Opening her eyes, Rose scanned the hallway and noted that all but two of the medics had left the area.
"Do we know the status of Richard and Magambo?" Rose asked Kate softly.
"There isn't anything new," Kate answered in a low voice, "But when they left the medics were saying the damage wasn't permanent."
"Those looked like third or fourth-degree burns," Rose said. "How is that not permanent?"
"UNIT has developed some very effective treatments," Kate said gently. "We have some things that aren't available to the public. Something we got from the Tervtians I believe."
"Is there a reason they aren't available yet?" Rose questioned, glad for the distraction.
"Apparently there isn't a simple procedure for producing them yet," Kate sighed and nodded to the hallway. "Becket Enterprises is working on that as well I believe."
"Did UNIT hand over all the Tervtian stuff to them or something," Rose muttered.
"Maybe," Kate answered with a slight smile. "There is a limit to how much time the UNIT science team can devote to such things around dealing with active threats. Geneva thought it was a good time to start using outside intelligence."
"I'm not sure about that," Rose admitted. "Before I'd say it was a good idea, but now…" Rose nodded to the doorway, "Maybe it is too exposed."
"There are bound to be some growing pains," Kate reminded her gently. "But UNIT is trying to improve itself. Science leads."
Rose looked over at Kate with a quizzical expression at Kate's words. "What do you want for UNIT?" Rose asked quietly.
"I'd like to see it led by scientists," Kate admitted with a smile. "Not just our sort of scientists, but linguists, anthropologists, biologists or botanists. People who can look at something new with wonder and give it a chance." Kate stilled and chuckled. "You're deceptively easy to talk to Rose."
"Part of my charm," Rose replied with a smile. "I knew there was a reason that I liked you."
A sudden burst of activity near the life made Rose straighten and push away from the wall. General Benton stepped out of the lift and quickly saluted the three men standing nearby. He turned and walked straight for Malcolm.
"Doctor Taylor," he greeted shortly. "Do we know the status of the men who were in the room?"
"No sir," Malcolm told him regretfully.
"Is there any chance they are alive?" Benton questioned.
Malcolm wilted a little and swallowed. "Not much of one sir," he answered. "But the radiation seems not to pass through metal. If they took cover under the table or behind a shelf then they may have survived. Since the first blast, there have been small bursts which prevent us from entering the room directly." Malcolm gestured towards the door. "We have a sensor in the room now to determine if we can enter in radiation suits."
"Good," Benton said with a nod. He looked around at the assembled UNIT personnel. "On my way here I was briefed on Captain Magambo's status, she is stable and regained consciousness for a few minutes before she was put under for surgery."
There wasn't a cheer from those assembled, but some of the tension did ease. A moment later one of the men in radiation suits pulled the sensor out of the room and picked it up after scanning it with his handheld. Rose and Kate both moved over to Malcolm as he accepted the sensor package from one of the soldiers. He unwrapped it gently with gloved hands and set it down next to the computers. Holding her breath, Rose watched as Malcolm checked the levels the sensor had recorded as opposed to the computers.
"It doesn't shield against all of the radiation," he announced a moment later. "But enough of it that they can rush in quickly to check for our men." Malcolm checked a few more things. "Three minutes top before the energy pulses will become too much."
"Go," Benton ordered quickly. "Set an alarm," he ordered another soldier. "Two minutes and then you are out."
The three men in radiation suits nodded and waited for a signal when the alarm was set. They stepped through the open doorway and Rose heard Tosh gasp softly. Turning quickly to the woman Rose leaned over and examined Tosh's screen. The energy pulses had dropped off suddenly.
"What does that mean?" Tosh asked herself quietly before she tapped Malcolm's arm and directed his attention to the screen.
"When they stepped inside the first time something went off," Kate answered slowly in a tight voice. "What if it wasn't a normal trap, but some kind of biological scanner?"
"General!" Malcolm shouted quickly. "Unknown reaction is taking place. They need to get out!"
Organised chaos was the only way to describe what happened next as Benton barked his orders and shouts answered from inside the room. Rose stopped breathing as a moment later the first of the men emerged holding one end of a long piece of metal with a body on it. He was followed out of the room by the other two men each holding a corner of the large piece of metal. The body was badly burned on its back, but Rose could see the unburned front side of the body, the man had light skin. Rose tensed as the medics rushed forward to check Marks as the men in radiation suits held the remains of one of the shelves steady.
"He's alive," one of the medics announced. "We need to get him to a hospital immediately."
Rose couldn't move. She wanted to yell at them to get Mickey out of the room, rush forward into the room herself or start crying. Hopefully, it was professionalism or the realisation that it wouldn't help Mickey. She watched carefully as the medics applied some kind of salve to the charred skin of Marks' back and his lack of response. They carefully moved him onto a proper stretched and a few moments later he was on a portal respirator. As the medics vanished with Marks into the lift things became to move again as everyone cleared back from the laboratory.
Rose released a breath that she hadn't known she'd been holding and returned to Toshiko to look over her shoulder. "When they go back in?" Rose questioned before her eyes took in the levels of radiation. "Bloody hell," Rose breathed in terror.
"What is happening!?" Benton demanded.
"We need to go!" Kate snapped as she closed one of the cases. "Take the stairs and not the lift! Move!" She ordered sharply.
Benton didn't react for a moment but nodded at the command. "Upstairs!" He ordered sending those still in the hallway to start moving. Benton looked back at Malcolm. "What is going on?"
"Something else is happening," Tosh swallowed and added, "I think this weapon has a second stage and I'm not sure how big it is."
"I've got another man in there," Benton said urgently.
"I know," Tosh answered softly. "But you may be about to lose a lot more."
Rose made a soft noise and took an involuntary step towards the room before Benton caught her arm. Pulling her after him, Benton headed for the staircase. She didn't fight his grip despite the desire to help Mickey but wasn't actively trying to leave. They all moved quickly for the staircase, but Rose saw Benton look back towards the lab and frown. Benton's expression hardened and he marched towards her and gripped her arm before leading her up the stairs.
Rose pulled away from Benton as soon as they reached the upper level. Tosh and Malcolm had already rushed to the security cameras as Kate set up the sensor stations once again. She tossed Rose a few sensors which she turned and tossed down the stairs, ignoring Benton's protest. Joining Kate, Rose peered at the radiation levels which continued to rise.
"Are we going to be safe here?" Rose questioned.
"For now," Kate said softly. "But be ready to move."
"This is a populous area of London," Rose reminded her quietly. "This just became a crisis."
"Can you disarm this with the sonic pen?" Kate asked.
"No," Rose answered with a shake of her head. "I don't know enough about this to use the pen softly. For all I know I could cause the thing to blow up."
"I see," Kate sighed as she watched the radiation levels. "Rose I don't think that-"
"Please don't," Rose interrupted quickly. "I'm going to hope until I know that he's…" Rose swallowed. "I'll be right back."
Stepping back from Kate, Rose found an empty corridor off of the lobby where she could easily regroup with the others. Pulling out her mobile, Rose pressed one and lifted it to her ear waiting for the Doctor or Donna to answer the phone. Rose waited as her mobile rang and made a soft cry when there was a beep indicating to leave a message.
"Doctor," Rose choked out. "I need you on Earth. 19 February 2006 at Becket Enterprises in London. Please," she added in a whisper. "I really need you here right now."
She closed her mobile phone gently and took in a deep breath as she glanced around, hoping for the TARDIS to appear. Back out in the hall, she could still hear orders being given and people rushing around. Shivering, Rose hugged herself quickly. She didn't even know if Mickey was still alive in that bloody room. Shaking her head, Rose forced herself to leave that thought.
"He's alive," she told herself. "He's got to be."
Rose waited in the corridor for another moment before taking a shaky breath. She turned to head back into the lobby but stopped when the wheezing sound of the TARDIS echoed in the corridor. Spinning, Rose turned towards the sound and nearly sobbed in relief as the TARDIS began to materialise. As the door opened, Rose just stopped herself from launching herself forward to hug her significant other when his previous form stepped out. The blue-eyed Doctor looked at Rose with a curious and worried expression.
"You called?" he questioned.
"Yeah," Rose managed, "Yes I did."