Time and the Trickster
Chapter Eight: The World Killer: The Prison Ship
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.
Rose tightened her coat around herself as she walked across the street from her home on Bannerman Road to the Smith-Chesterton house across the way. It was a chilly November day and Rose could imagine the water in the air freezing into ice, in fact, it may have been better if it did as at least it would have fallen to the ground and she wouldn't have to feel like she was breathing in a frozen pond. Rose forced herself to focus as she reached Sarah Jane's door and pulled out her key. Sarah Jane and Johnny were attending the reveal of a new computer system in Germany, Sarah Jane as a reporter and Johnny as a curious engineer who would no doubt translate a lot of technical information for his wife. Luke was staying with Clyde, but since she was in London Rose was planning to do a quick check on Mister Spock and K-9. Just to make sure that their systems were working properly.
The lock clicked open and Rose stepped into the quiet house. It was so still in comparison to what she was used to. Sarah Jane's once perfectly clean home had transformed dramatically in less than a year. Luke's adoption had resulted in a sitting room being transformed with a television and game system where he and his friends would spend their time. Her marriage to Johnny had resulted in new photographs around the house, bookshelves being shared with his things, the feminine rugs and pillows of the living room being replaced with solid darker colours and other touches all over the place. Rose smiled to herself when she'd first met Sarah Jane the woman had been rather prickly and while she'd been happy with who she was the reporter hadn't been really happy. A year later she was happily married with a son.
"Mistress Rose?" the robotic voice of K-9 called from up the stairs. It didn't surprise Rose in the least that the robot dog was in the attic with Spock. She just hoped they weren't arguing about relative dimensions or which one of their systems was superior again.
"Yes K-9," Rose called back as she shrugged out of her coat and hung it by the door. "It's me."
Rose climbed the stairs to the attic and couldn't hold in a very unladylike snort at the sight before her. Spock was projecting a holographic chess set, but not a normal chess set. No, apparently the duelling computers had decided that Earth chess was too simple and were playing three-dimensional chess. Rose didn't understand the rules and had no desire to, but she could guess that it was more complicated. There were a few more white pieces than black, but she thought that black might have the advantage based on the location of the white king relative to what looked like a black queen.
"Having fun?" Rose questioned as she leaned against the doorframe of the attic.
"Checkmate in four moves, Mistress Rose," K-9 replied and despite his computerised voice Rose was sure she heard some smugness.
"I have checkmate in three," Spock announced also sounding smug.
Seeing that another bout of snarking computers was about to start Rose stepped forward. "Sorry boys, but I have limited time to check Spock so this will have to wait. K-9 I want you to run a diagnostic."
"I have a matter to discuss with you Rose," Spock announced. "Forty-five minutes ago-"
"Rose!" A sudden voice called out from downstairs. Rose smiled recognising Luke's voice. Turning back to the computers Rose ordered, "Play nicely you two, I'll be right back."
Spock started to say something, but Rose spun back towards the door and hurried to the stairs. She nearly jumped down to the stairs and found Luke, Clyde and Rani waiting for her. Rose took in the three pre-teens quickly. Rani had grown a few more inches and was almost as tall as Luke and Clyde giving Rose the impression that she'd grow up to be a very tall girl. She was dressed practically in jeans, a jacket with her long dark hair tied back. Clyde's hair had been cut even shorter as a buzzcut and he was dressed in his standard jeans and hoodie combination. Luke still stood a bit awkwardly, as if unsure what to do when he was just waiting. His hair was messy and in need of a trim, but his short shelved button up shirt was neatly pressed. He presented an odd picture overall, but he looked more comfortable than when Rose had last seen him and smiling widely at her.
"Did you see it?" Rani questioned with a hint of excitement in her voice.
"Nice to see you too," Rose remarked stepping forward to hug Luke tightly. She released him after a moment and smiled at him. "You look good Luke," she complimented.
"Thank you very much," Clyde said proudly with a grin. "I've been working on him."
"Now," Rose asked, "Did I see what?"
"A meteor," Rani cheered with excitement. "Over London just now. It must have crashed down somewhere nearby. We came by to ask Spock about it," she examined with excited eyes.
"Please tell me it was something cool!" Clyde begged with just as much excitement.
"A body entering the Earth's atmosphere generates temperatures in excess 1600 degrees centigrade, no way was it something cool," Luke supplied, but he was smiling mischievously.
The dark skinned boy looked torn between laughing and rolling his eyes. "Still got a long way to go with that humour thing my young padawan."
"So you saw a meteor?" Rose questioned her mind quickly becoming alert. "Just now?"
"Yeah, it blew just overhead," Clyde confirmed. "We came straight over to your place to tell you, but your Mum said you were over here," Clyde lifted his fingers to make quotes, "Watering the plants."
"My Mum was a bit offended," Rani added, "What with owning a flower shop."
"So I should have said I was coming over to check on a supercomputer with extraterrestrial origins and a robotic dog produced almost three thousand years in the future," Rose huffed. "Come on, Spock said something earlier, maybe about that meteor or whatever it was."
They went back upstairs quickly to find that Spock had ended the holographic chess match simulation and his screen was split between two images: one of the solar system and the other a map of a nearby part of London.
"I take if you have found out about the extraterrestrial body that entered the Earth's atmosphere," Spock said. "As I was trying to say I have been tracking the object since it entered solar space forty-five minutes ago."
"It crossed the Solar System in forty-five minutes?" Rose gasped. "Then we're taking about a ship and not a meteor."
"Indeed Mistress Rose," K-9 confirmed. "We detected ionic propulsion fusion engines have left a distinct trail from the Ort cloud to planet Earth. The ship's trajectory was very stable, but engines failed once the ship entered the inner solar system."
"Ionic propulsion fusion," Clyde exclaimed with a grin, "Now that sounds cool!"
"Why didn't you mention this when I first came in?" Rose asked Spock with a slight frown.
"We were trying to finish our chess match first," Spock replied calmly either unaware of Rose's anger or uncaring. "Nothing indicated an immediate threat to the Earth or the human species."
"Fine," Rose huffed with a wave of her hand. "Do either of you have anything specific on the object? Planet of origin, reason for being so close to the solar system or reason for engine failure?"
"I intercepted the following the following distress signal," Spock offered before filling the screen with a recording.
A large rhino-like creature with the same horn and head shape as the Earth creature was sitting in a pilot chair surrounded by controls with sparks flying all around him. Unlike the Earth creature, the being wore a heavy looking grey suit of armour. With her translator off, all Rose heard was strange rhythmic noises. She quickly pulled the translator from her pocket and put it on. The words instantly took on meaning as the creature called back to the Shadow Proclamation reporting a strange computer failure that had caused overheating in the engines and massive failures.
"Judoon," Rose said softly in realisation, putting the pieces together at the mention of the Shadow Proclamation that the Doctor had told her about.
"Oh boy!" Rani laughed behind Rose. "A talking rhino."
"He's a Judoon," Rose explained as she crossed her arms and frowned with worry. "His species work for the Shadow Proclamation. They are sort of like policemen, they enforce the Shadow Proclamation's code across much of the universe."
"So they're the good guys," Luke said from behind Rose, but it sounded a bit like a question too.
"Sometimes," Rose offered with a nervous shrug, "But according to the Doctor their methods can result in a lot of collateral damage. They don't see shades of grey, but operate on a very strict view of black and white, lawful or not which has caused the Doctor plenty of problems in the past."
"The Doctor has told you about them?" Luke asked curiously.
"He knows that this sort of thing is my job," Rose supplied. "Unlike your Mum, I am paid to do this and he likes me to be prepared. I have an English copy of all the current articles of the Shadow Proclamation," she explained with a shudder. "Really boring in some places and really terrifying in others." Rose shook her head and added, "But Earth is a level five planet according to the Shadow Proclamation so I don't know how a Judoon will cope on a world that he has no authority to uphold law. The Doctor says they aren't very smart so this could get ugly."
"Affirmative Mistress Rose," K-9 agreed. "Extreme caution is necessary."
"Spock where is the ship?" Rose questioned.
Spock enlarged the half of his screen holding the map. "UNIT has isolated the spacecraft here," Spock supplied creating a bright red dot on the map.
"Well then I'll just have to hope they call me in," Rose muttered biting her lip nervously. "I really don't like the combination of UNIT and a Judoon. UNIT is likely to take the Judoon as a threat and the Judoon is likely to take UNIT as a threat."
"Damn," Clyde groaned. "I really wanted another go at this meeting aliens thing."
"You and me both," Rani added with a frown. "It was fun meeting that alien at Sarah Jane's wedding."
"I'm sure you'll have more chances if you stay around the Chesterton-Smiths," Rose assured them as she pulled out her mobile. 'And hopefully some less dangerous than this is likely to be."
"But UNIT seems unaware of the life pod that was ejected before impact," Spock finished, a smug tone appearing in his voice again.
"Life pod?" Rose questioned turning back to the screen quickly. "Outside the restricted area?"
"My calculations suggest that it fell some ten miles outside the UNIT isolation zone in the abandoned Brely-Chase Council Estate."
"Yes," Clyde cheered as he pumped his fist.
"You're not going," Rose said sternly as she slipped her mobile back into her pocket.
"What?" Clyde, Rani and Luke demanded at the same time, at least two of their voices taking on an angry and desperate tone.
"You three are going home or in Luke's case back to Clyde's," Rose ordered calmly as she pulled a hair tie from her pocket and twisted her hair into a ponytail. Then she slipped the sonic pen back into the tie to keep it convenient.
"But that's not fair," Rani argued as she stepped forward. "We want to see this Judoon and we can help you!"
"Who here wants to see the alien?" Rose questioned as she raised her own hand and three others shot into the air. "Who here is over eighteen?" The three other hands dropped and the teenagers glowered at her.
"Hypocrite," Clyde muttered while fixing Rose with a sharp look.
"When I dealt with aliens before I was an adult I had no choice Clyde," Rose told them softly. "This Judoon may be hurt, confused and it is definitely armed. I won't take responsibility for your safety."
"I shall accompany you, Mistress Rose," K-9 announced rolling forward.
Rose knelt with a smile and patted the robot's head. "Thank you K-9, but no. The Judoon know Earth to be a level five planet and you are not level five technology. I can hide the sonic pen, but you're a bit harder. Stay with Spock and monitor UNIT's communications and any other information you can find. I'll keep my mobile handy and stay in touch."
"Understood Mistress Rose," K-9 replied. "I shall remain on alert should you require my assistance."
"Be careful Rose," Spock added.
The three teenagers grumbled, but all wished her luck as Rose turned to the attic door. To her great relief, none of them followed her down the stairs arguing with her. She snatched her coat from the foyer and rushed across the street to her waiting SUV. Rose glanced back towards the house, grateful to see none of the teens following her before she sped off towards the life pod crash site.
The Brely-Chase Council Estate was a collection of blocky building assembled in a way that probably considered artistic in the seventies. Grime streaked the sides of the once bright buildings and Rose paused as she looked up at the building. She had found herself thinking of the Powell Estate more and more lately even if she and her mother had left it behind. At this moment she almost felt homesick for the brick buildings that had been her home as a child. Rose shook off the feeling and walked into the Council grounds, unlocking the gate to the fenced off estate with the sonic screwdriver.
She didn't have to go far to find the crash site, well the first sign of it. One side of the largest building had a smouldering hole blown through it. Rose felt great relief that this council estate was close and abandoned as she knew firsthand just how crowded a building like this could be. Listening for any noises, Rose scanned the area carefully. There was a tension in the air and she felt her body tense in response. It probably wouldn't take UNIT to determine that they had a ship with no pilot and come looking. At the moment Rose's best plan was to find the Judoon, calm it down and help get it get transport from Earth. Hopefully, she wouldn't do anything to endanger Earth's level five status just yet. Her planet wasn't ready for level six status and the headaches that came with it.
Then there was a sudden crash and Rose darted to the side of one of the buildings. She glanced around quickly but didn't see anything for a moment. There were blasts of energy from some kind of energy weapon that hit the building far ahead of her. Rose jumped back and ducked into the doorway of the building, peeking out around the corner of the entryway. The Judoon lumbered towards her with his weapon drawn and firing. Rose flinched back on instinct before another round of shots hit the building far ahead once more. She peeked out in time to a much lighter humanoid figure with chains hanging from its arms dashing between this building and the next one and the Judoon firing after it.
"Bloody hell," Rose hissed as the Judoon marched after the figure. "Oh no," she groaned softly as she pulled out her mobile. "This is bad," she said to herself as she dialled the phone. "This is really bad."
"Yes, Rose?" Spock's voice answered. "Have you made contact with the Judoon?"
"Spock, did that distress call to the Shadow Proclamation get through?" Rose questioned urgently. In the background she could hear the others talking in low voices, apparently, her instructions to return home had been ignored.
"It is possible Rose," Spock said, "But I am unable to determine that for certain."
"Resend the message," Rose instructed. "And make it as urgent as you can."
"Has the Judoon turned hostile?" Spock questioned.
"No, but he wasn't alone," Rose cried.
"A prisoner!" Luke exclaimed for the background. "Right Rose?"
"I'm afraid so," Rose agreed. "The Judoon is going to do everything it can to recapture its prisoners and if humans get in the way…" Rose trailed off. "Just resend the message Spock and I'll try to get the Judoon to work with me to capture that prisoner."
"Shall I contact UNIT?" Spock questioned.
"No, wait for now until I have a better idea of what we are dealing with," Rose ordered. "With any luck, this is a minor criminal."
"And when are you ever lucky?" Rani questioned, but Rose decided to ignore it and ended the call. She took a breath and then rushed off to follow the Judoon.
She turned a corner quickly into an old garden area tucked back behind the estate and led down towards the roadway. Rose quickened her pace as she heard and heavy thud ahead of her. "What's going on?" She called out to warn the Judoon that she was coming and hopefully keep him from thinking she was attacking.
Rose turned another corner to get around a wall and stopped in her tracks. The Judoon was lying on the ground with some greenish yellow blood seeping from a wound on his head. Next to him holding a heavy old pipe was a humanoid figure in black clothing with chains discarded at its side. His dark hair was long and matted, but Rose knew him the moment he swung his dark eyes to her.
On reflex, Rose summoned her sword and shifted into a defensive position with it positioned in front of her. The humanoid figure was staring at her with the same stunned shock and then his expression turned excited and devious.
"Rose Tyler," he greeted in his slick voice.
"Thane," Rose hissed.
"The stars have a sense of humour," Thane giggled with his horrible smile growing wider. "For me to meet you so soon, it is more than I hoped."
He was about to say more when the Judoon suddenly groaned and began to shift. Thane glanced down at it and Rose used the chance to leap forward, swinging her sword at the World Killer. He dodged out of her way at the last moment and the sword collided with the short brick wall of the garden. Thane hissed at her before spinning and rushing away. Rose tore her sword from the wall and moved to follow Thane when the Judoon lashed out sideways, knocking her to the ground. Rose grunted as she hit the dirt and her sword returned to bracelet form. The Judoon swayed on his feet and Rose slipped her hand up to grab her translator from her ear and shoved it into her pocket. She looked up at the Judoon and saw his weapon pointing down at her.
"I don't mean you any harm," Rose said as she slowly stood. "I was trying to stop that man who attacked you."
The Judoon pulled out a small red stick-like device and shoved it towards her mouth. Guessing his intent she started to speak into the Judoon language assimilator that the Doctor had mentioned. "My name is Rose Tyler," she said clearly. "I mean you no harm so long as you don't harm me. I assisted in the capture of Thane from Earth the last time he was here and want to see him recaptured as quickly as possible."
The Judoon pulled the device away from her and inserted it into a round hole in his armour that was lined with a red hoop of the same color.
"Language assimilated," the Judoon announced a moment later. "Earth English." Rose sighed in relief, at least her translator wouldn't cause any awkward questions. The Judoon lifted the red device towards her again, but this time used the other end. A blue light shown from it. "You will be catalogued," the Judoon ordered. The device made a few small beeps and Rose forced herself to stay still when she really wanted to chase Thane. "Species human."
"Great," Rose snapped. "Can we focus on your escaped prisoner now?"
The Judoon started to move to follow Thane but nearly fell a moment later. Rose caught its arm and helped the heavy creature a few feet to the wall.
"I Tybo Captain of 1005th Judoon Guard."
"Pleased to meet you, Captain," Rose greeted impatiently. "But I want to know if you have a plan to capture Thane."
"I do not answer to humans," Tybo hissed.
"You crashed on my planet and allowed a being that rips worlds apart for fun loose upon it," Rose snapped. She glared at the Judoon commander and hissed, "You mean to tell me that Thane is back on my planet? The World Killer is back on Earth?! And you're not going to answer to my species for it!" Rose forced herself to breathe. "This is fully established level five planet and you are an officer of the Shadow Proclamation, you have no authority on this planet unless it is given to you in an emergency by the local population." The Judoon looked surprised and Rose felt a tiny bit better. "I will assist you in recapturing Thane," she said solemnly, "But your authority on this world comes from me and you'd better remember that."
The Judoon huffed and said nothing in response. Rose gave Captain Tydo a firm look before pulling out her mobile. Hitting Malcolm's speed dial button, Rose raised the phone to her ear while keeping an eye on the Judoon who was watching her.
"Rose I'm a bit busy at the moment," Malcolm's cheerful voice announced, but he sounded a bit grim. "Any chance you're in London?"
"Yes," Rose chuckled tiredly. "Malcolm tell the Brigadier that we've got a huge problem. The ship that crashed was a Judoon prison ship and the prisoner is Thane." There was a pause and a sharp intact of breath. "Do you understand?" Rose pressed. "The World Killer is back on Earth. I'm with the Judoon Captain and I'll work with him to find Thane, but stay alert and I'll contact you when I've got more."
"Rose-" Malcolm started to say something, but Rose hung up and shoved the phone back into her pocket.
"Well Captain Tybo," Rose asked. "Shall we go and find Thane?"