Eeeeyyyy look what we have here! :D
Thanks to WhoinWhoville for being beta ^-^
They spent a full week moving around the boroughs of Liverpool. Most of their time was devoted to scoping out how things were beginning to work. Large percentages of the people had managed to escape the initial roundups and were living rough both inside and beyond the city. The rest, however, had been rounded up into the labor camps, and the escaped survivors were actively being hunted down by the Master's own private army: the Unified Containment Forces, a bunch of men and women, mostly soldier types that were responsible for disciplining, monitoring, and containing the rest of the human race. The Toclafane were only active in force during Week One. After that, they retreated high into the skies to be called upon when needed.
"Wonder what he's paying them with?" Martha muttered one afternoon as they were watching a group of CFs force a small family into the back of a truck.
Rose made a quiet noise of disgust.
"No, seriously. It's not like money's any good these days. So what's he giving them?"
Rose didn't answer for a moment. "Food, clothes, freedom, and guns." She watched one of the soldiers jab a man in the chest with the muzzle of his gun.
The women found sturdier backpacks, and stocked up on supplies. They found food, two blankets, a spare set of clothes, and binoculars. Each had a knife in their pack. Rose abandoned her blue jacket in favor of a black one that went to her waist, and wasn't as noticeable. The key could only do so much, after all, and the unfamiliar city was far more dangerous than the small towns and wilds they were used to.
Martha was grateful that Rose was with her for this. Rose's Torchwood training had given her navigation and survival skills, and Martha was sure growing up on a rough council estate probably helped, too. Plus, being an agent for a top-secret organization had made her an expert on covert operations. Martha knew she probably wouldn't have made it this far without her.
They also began to tell people to tell about the Doctor. They told groups of people living together in hiding, individuals or pairs living it rough in the war torn city—anyone who would listen. Most of the people they managed to talk to treated them with disbelief and scorn. Their stories were ridiculed as wishful fancies or science fiction, and their plan to save the world was seen as preposterous. Rose tried to display her abilities in attempt to gain their trust, healing minor injuries people had sustained over the last week. But for the most part, that only served to make people wary of her. Freak, they called her. Alien. They were sure one or two of the groups of people they'd met had ratted them out to the CFs.
They'd suspected the Master would want them back on the Valiant one way or another, but upon hearing a group of soldiers talking about the two chicks that the Master is after, they realized exactly what he was willing to do to make sure it happened. Someone had snitched because the soldiers sounded confident that Rose and Martha were somewhere in the city. Rose knew they'd have to be more careful.
They didn't really make any progress until the sixth evening while in Bootle. They'd found someone who was interested in what they had to say, and agreed to round up as many people as they could to listen to the story. The group met in a nondescript second floor flat in a random block. A crowd of about thirty people had gathered, all survivors living in the building or the surrounding areas. They all had the similar haunted look about them, and most of them looked like they hadn't had a good bath in days—smelled like it, too. They looked Rose and Martha up and down critically, sizing them up, wondering what they could possibly have to say.
It was the largest group they'd had yet, and they'd been assured that all of them had come of their own free will to hear them out. The first thing Rose and Martha did was to tell them their names. Rose decided to get the ball rolling by telling them about Hshaa, a planet that was entirely flat all the way around except for two mountains at its North and South poles, with winds that never ended and days that lasted weeks. Then, Martha told them about the planet Orobis where the Doctor had been arrested for polygamy simply because he'd held both their hands. Rose told them about the Rinthoran Nebula in a galaxy billions of light years away, which was growing a hundred thousand baby stars in its depths. Martha told them about the Xinnas Manor, made entirely of opal essence, and no matter where you went, every surface was shining.
The people were enraptured. Whether or not they believed them, they were still enjoying the distraction.
Then Rose decided to get to the point. She told them what really happened at Canary Wharf, all the truths the people in power either never knew or kept hidden. She told them her role in it, what she and the Doctor did, and how they saved the world. She told them what she'd given up to stay with him. "'Cos he's worth it. 'Cos he's saved your lives so many times and in the future he's saved them too. He saved me, when I first met him. Remember the man onboard the Valiant that the Master was talking to? That's the Doctor."
"You!" one of the teenagers exclaimed suddenly. "You was there, the both of you!"
"We were," Martha agreed. "We were trying to stop him. But he'd been planning this for too long and we just didn't have enough time to stop him. This time, we do. And that's why we're here now. We know how to defeat the Master."
The people listened with new intensity as Rose and Martha explained what had to be done. There were questions, like always, but they were determined to make the people understand. And, finally, it seemed that they had. There was just some doubt that Rose and Martha could pull it off on their own. That was when Rose decided it was time to play their trump card.
One of the men, a tall fellow with light brown hair and a decent build, had his left arm wrapped in gauze. Rose asked him to come forward and asked him his name, which was Lyle. Martha caught on quickly and questioned him about his arm. She told him she was a doctor, and he let her unwrap it as he explained what had happened. It was a burn, and a bad one, too. The flesh was a mix of angry red hues and a few blisters remained swollen under the skin, while others had ruptured. He said they'd run it under cold water and applied burn cream, but it wasn't healing.
"Yeah, I don't think it's gonna," Martha said. "I'm not a burn specialist but I think this needs a skin graft."
"Oh, great," he growled. "Thanks doc."
"Now hang on a tick. Don't go jumping to conclusions."
He frowned in disbelief. "You can give me a skin graft?"
"Oh no." Martha shook her head and looked at Rose. "But it shouldn't be too hard for you, right?"
"I've never dealt with burns before," Rose hissed nervously. This could end up backfiring horribly.
"It's just his skin, maybe some nerves—you said those were easy to do."
Rose licked her lips thoughtfully and decided she had to at least try. Besides, who knew when this would be necessary? So she placed her glowing hand on Lyle's skin and ignored his yowl of pain at the contact, and let her power flow through the damaged tissue. His cries diminished to whimpers and then quieted all together. Rose drew back, surprised at how little effort it had taken. His arm bore faint traces of the prior damage. The skin was just a bit off-color and waxy, but other than that, he was completely healed.
The onlookers crowded around him in amazement. They touched the repaired skin with nervous fingertips, as if afraid it was nothing more than illusion, and then gasped in shock upon realizing it wasn't. Some of them came towards her, showing her wounds of their own, cuts and bruises mostly, and she willingly used up miniscule amounts of energy to heal them. The others that hung back out of wariness or doubt gradually came closer to see for themselves.
One older woman with dark, graying hair got really close as Martha was inspecting an ugly cut on the underside a teenaged boy's arm. "Infected," Martha declared. "Make sure you get rid of the bacteria under there before you close the wound," she said to Rose.
The woman's brown eyes remained riveted on Rose's shining hand as it covered the wound on his arm while clearing the infection. Then Rose shifted, pressing her pointer and middle fingertips against one end of the cut and dragged them slowly along the length of the incision, closing it as they went. The skin lost its alarming red tint and faded back to normal before their eyes.
The grey-haired woman stared at his arm for a moment longer, and then at Rose with awe. "You work miracles." She sounded American.
Rose smiled the tiniest bit. "I've heard that before."
The woman reached forward, hesitating a few inches from Rose's hand, then grasped it firmly in both of hers. She was trembling. "I have always believed in the Lord, ever since I was a little girl. I can't remember a time when I didn't. That's why I became a minister. I've had my faith tested but I've always persevered I truly believe I have been awarded for it. But—but these last two weeks I—I am ashamed to say, but I had begun to lose faith in Him. How could He let this happen to us?" She shook her head. "I know many Christians in the past have wondered the very same thing in times of tribulation but this is so much more than that. But I've doubted. I've wondered if maybe He really doesn't exist…or doesn't care about us."
Taking a deep breath, the woman used one of her hands and grabbed Martha's, drawing her closer as well. "You're in so much pain, I can see it. You've lost those you love, one way or the other, but you have something I haven't seen in anyone in days. Hope. No, you don't just have hope—you are hope. Your stories, your knowledge, your power—you two have given me hope for the world. God has given you both the knowledge and strength you will need to save us all. I do not care what your faith is—but you must hold onto it. You must always be as confident as you are today, you must always shine, or people will doubt you. If you want your plan to succeed, then you will have to be the beacon of hope we can all look to. And, Martha, Rose, I believe you can do it."
Rose stared at her in stunned silence, touched by her words. How could a stranger have such faith in them?
"It's not us you should remember—it's the Doctor," Martha said quietly.
The minister laughed. "The Doctor…he may be the one to defeat the Master in the end, but you two are gonna save the world." She squeezed both of their hands, smiling, and then released them.
Not long after, most of the crowd began to disperse with promises to spread the stories and the names of Martha Jones and Rose Tyler. They left the flat in groups of two or three. It wasn't a good idea to have a crowd of people gathered in case a Toclafane came buzzing around. After fifteen minutes, only the two residents of the flat—a man and a woman with curly blonde hair—the minister, and Lyle remained.
"What's your plan?" Lyle asked them. "You said you're going around the world. If you came from London, I reckon you don't plan on going through Europe first. You plannin' on goin' towards Scotland or Ireland?"
Rose and Martha glanced at each other. "Scotland," Martha replied. "We've heard talk about survivor camps in Scotland. We want to try to find one outside Glasgow."
"You're gonna walk? To Glasgow?"
"Walked from London, didn't we?" Rose muttered under her breath.
Lyle frowned. "Okay. Walk to Glasgow. And then?"
"We head to the coast and sail to Ireland."
"And how's that gonna happen? You plan to steal a boat or something?"
Martha gave a one-shouldered shrug. "If we have to."
He shook his head. "You two are gonna get yourselves killed if you fly blind. Abe! Abe, mate, bring me that atlas of yours."
The young bloke with curly blonde hair jumped off the sofa and scurried down the hall towards the bedrooms. The man motioned Rose and Martha into the kitchen and started yanking out drawers and rummaging noisily through the contents.
"Lyle, what the hell you doin'?" The blonde woman demanded.
"Where do you keep your damn markers?"
She sighed. "Third drawer left from the sink."
He yanked it open, sifting through the contents, and pulled out few thin Expo markers. The blonde man came back with his atlas and was instructed to put it on the table. Lyle exhaled loudly as he sat down at the table and flipped through the pages. Rose and Martha pulled chairs around and sat on opposite sides of him, while the minister and the blonde woman ventured into the kitchen to see what Lyle was up to.
"Alright, take a look." Lyle smoothed the pages as flat as he could so they could see the world map. "You got a hell lot o' ground to cover and not a long time to do it in. Way you talk, you gotta get yourselves back to Britain in about fifty weeks. On foot, that ain't gonna be easy. You're gonna have to find other ways to travel without getting caught. That'll be on you. But I can't in good conscience just let you both run off without some sort of travel plan. I owe you that much." He held up his arm.
Rose and Martha looked at each other and Rose licked her lips. "Fine. But only you. You three gotta go. It's not safe if too many people know what we're planning."
The two blondes shrugged and headed for the door but the minister stayed where she was. "But I want to help."
"I know, but it's for your own good."
"Hannah, come on," Abe hissed, beckoning her towards the door.
She scowled, exhaling in a huff. "Fine. We'll be out here."
Lyle tapped the map with his finger again as she left the room. "Right, then. Like I said. You got a lot of ground to cover and not a lot of time to do it in. I think you're wasting time going all the way to Glasgow. We can get word that way ourselves. What you need to focus on is getting out of Britain and fast 'cos once word starts really getting out about you, then the Master's gonna come after you."
"He already is," Martha said.
"Then you definitely need to scram. Get off this island. But from there is where it gets tricky. See, you've got all this space—" he gestured at the land on the map "—but you can't visit all of it. You've only got a few months. You have to get across the oceans and the States and still have time to cross Eurasia. The ocean voyages alone will probably take a few weeks."
"When should we be on the East coast of Asia?" Rose asked. "Like, what month?"
"Mmm…December. November, if you can manage. Any later and you're gonna be in trouble. Who knows what it'll be like over here by then."
Martha frowned as she studied the page intently. It had been a long time since she'd thought about it, but her planet really was very big. Maybe not compared to some of the planets she'd visited in the last year, but it was still pretty enormous, especially when one only had a year to walk its surface.
Lyle drummed his fingers against the table in a familiar rhythm. Tap-tap-tap-tap. Tap-tap-tap-tap. Archangel at work. He didn't even seem to realize it.
"First things first, we gotta get you to America. I work for—well, I used to work for a shipping company. From what I managed to find out before I got hurt, its boats have been seized and the CFs started usin' em to transport goods and supplies. And it can transport you two—assumin' we can get you aboard, that is."
"Oh, that'll be easy, don't worry," Martha assured him. "We have a way of avoiding detection. We just need to know what boat will take us to Ireland.'
Lyle shook his head. "Forget Ireland. If you start spreading your stories there then the Master will know for a fact what your plan is. You need to vanish into the ether. Get on a boat heading for America. You'll be at sea for a few days and during that time, we'll start spreading your message here. They'll be looking for you here, and by the time word starts circulating about you on the Eastern Seaboard of America, you two could be on your way into the Midwest."
"Sounds good to me. Rose?"
Rose bit the inside of her lip and looked down at the map again. She tapped the American coast with her pointer finger. "Where would we get off at?"
He sucked in a breath through his teeth. "Difficult to say. Probably one of the bigger port cities: New York or Boston. Though, seeing as it's a transport loop, they'll probably be making several stops along the coast. I'd get off as soon as you can, if I were you. Once you get there, you need to find yourselves some resistance groups. They know their country; they can get you through it and across the Pacific. Once you get there, make your way across Asia back to Europe."
"What about Australia, South America, and Africa?" asked Rose.
"South America is way out of the way, same with Australia. The Americans can get word down through Mexico. You could go through Africa but I don't think it should be a priority. You won't be able to reach as many people as you will in Europe."
Martha exhaled through her mouth. "We're leaving a lot up to chance with this."
"We'll just have to trust people to pass the word along. Shouldn't be too big of a risk," Rose reasoned. "Like she said, we're talking about hope and that spreads like wildfire."
"Fine. North America, Asia, and Europe."
Lyle nodded, and then started ripping the physical and political maps of North America, Europe, and Asia from the book. Then after a moment's deliberation, he tore out the one of Britain as well.
A cry of distress came from the other room. "Is he ripping my atlas?!"
"Ignore him," Lyle muttered. "You need these more than he does."
Lyle planned to get word to his mates down at the shipyards that night. In the meantime, he suggested Rose and Martha get ready for a long trip, and then meet him back here as soon as possible. They scavenged around to restock their stash of food with what they could find that would survive a week at sea. What wouldn't, they ate. They went back to the recreation center that they'd discovered still had running water to take showers—and from the looks of things, they weren't the only ones who knew about this place. They didn't dawdle.
They returned back to the flat long before dawn, and the blonde woman, whom they learned was named Willow, offered them the bed to sleep on. After being forced to spend the weeks lying mostly on the ground or just pillows, they jumped at the opportunity for a real bed. There was no squabbling about who went where or if they were sleeping at opposite ends of the bed, they both just stripped out of their jackets and shoes and dropped into bed. They were both out within minutes.
Sometime later, Rose was pulled from sleep by an unfamiliar voice in her ear and an insistent shaking. Her body was moving before her mind had even fully transitioned from sleep. She seized the head of the figure above her, and slamming it down onto the edge of the bed. It was a young male from the sound of the resulting yelp. She shoved him, and then launched herself out of the bed, slamming into her attacker's body, the force of it driving them both towards the wall. She pinned him with her forearm against his throat and a knee between his legs.
"Stop!" he croaked. "It's me!"
Rose blinked, recognizing him. "Abe?"
"Rose?" Martha gasped from behind her. "What's going on?"
"I was just trying to wake you up!" Abe gasped. "God damn, woman, I thought you were gonna kill me."
"I barely touched you," she muttered, backing off. He massaged his stomach gingerly and shot her a reproachful look. "What do you want?"
"Lyle's back. Says he found you a way across but it departs in two hours. There isn't another one out of there to America for four days, so if you're gonna go, you gotta go now."
Rose stared at him for a second, and then she dropped onto the bed and started pulling her shoes on. She heard Martha throw the covers off and grab her jacket. Rose shoved her arms through the sleeves of hers and zipped it up quickly. Pulling her hair out from beneath the collar, she crossed the room to the dresser where she'd noticed some hair ties earlier. She slid three into the pocket of her trousers and gripped one between her teeth as she combed her hair back with her fingers.
"You ready Martha?" she asked through her teeth.
"Just about," was the reply.
"Can I help with anything?" Abe asked.
"No," said Martha. "You've done enough already. Thanks for the bed."
Willow and Lyle were waiting in the entryway. Willow handed Rose and Martha each an apple and a pack of peanut butter crackers to take with them.
"I wouldn't stay here long, though," Rose advised the three of them. "Sooner or later they'll start going door to door for people. You either need to find a resistance group or start moving around. Stay still and you'll end up slaves."
"We'll keep that in mind," said Willow. "Thank you."
"And tell the Reverend goodbye for us," she added.
Lyle led the two travelers through the empty streets of Liverpool. The sky was beginning to lighten overhead, and the few birds that remained within the city were starting their morning songs. They kept their ears peeled for the sounds of approaching vehicles since no one that wasn't a member of the UCF would risk traveling on wheels within the city. More than once, Rose heard the telltale hum of a nearby vehicle and they'd scurry into an alley or nearby building, but only once did something come near them.
They ducked into an alley and quickly found a spot for Lyle to hide. He protested that they were more important than him, but at their insistence, he wedged himself in the space between two dumpsters. They'd only just gotten his feet crammed in as well when a Humvee appeared. Rose and Martha crouched there in the open, watching the black Humvee cruise slowly by, protected by their keys against the searching gazes of the figure in the top. Lyle gasped when the searchlight passed over them.
"Shh," Rose hissed through unmoving lips.
The Humvee moved on.
They waited until the sound of the engine had faded before grasping Lyle's hands and hauling him out of the tight space.
"B-but they shined a light on you! The bastards were looking right at you! How the fuck didn't they see you?"
Martha and Rose glanced at each other then pulled their keys from underneath their jackets. "Perception filters," said Martha.
"It's so people won't notice us," Rose explained. "We're not invisible—we can still be seen—but it's difficult unless we draw attention to ourselves."
Lyle blinked several times. "But I can see you."
"When you walked into the flat last night, did you notice us at first?"
He cocked his head to the side. "Now that you mention it, I really didn't. I was…aware you were there, I guess, but I didn't really know until you started talkin'."
"That's the perception filter."
"But, wait, that means they still saw you. They might come back if they realize it," he pointed out.
"Uh, right. Let's keep moving," Rose said, tucking her key back in.
They cut through a small park with a rugby pitch. Rose thought she might've glimpsed someone sitting in the shadow of the fence that surrounded the field but she wasn't sure. After the park they wound through another residential area. The houses gave way to industrial buildings and warehouses, and they began to hear the bustle of the shipyard.
Lyle ducked behind an abandoned car in the parking lot of a nondescript building. "Alright, it's just around the corner. There's another shift of workers being brought in by convoy any minute. I'll get on board one of the trucks. You two, though, since you got them keys, you can just walk through the gate, right? I'll meet you inside."
Rose was a little worried that they'd be spotted as they strode towards guard shack between the entrance and exit lanes. But the man inside didn't so much as glance in their direction the entire time, not even when their shoes scuffled against the ground as they ducked under the rail. They made their way towards the pier where the boats were being loaded.
The convoy arrived a few minutes later, and they followed the trucks to the unloading spot. Carefully, they weaved through the exhausted workers and their fresh replacements until they found Lyle at the end of the line. His eyes were darting around, seeking them, but he didn't seem to notice them walking alongside until Martha tapped his arm. He glanced down, blinked, and then looked away.
When no one was paying attention, he split away from the group and headed down the pier towards a boat that was nearing the end of the loading process.
"The Trucail," he muttered. "Captain's a fellow called Patrick. He should be waiting out here somewhere. I'll point him out to you then I gotta get the hell out of here."
"Thank you for this," Rose said.
"Thanks for my arm. Good luck."
Lyle didn't say another word as they neared the Trucail. He approached a stout man with a pale beard standing rigidly next to a gangplank, observing the scene.
"Sir," Lyle greeted. "Got that last bit of cargo."
Patrick's eyes flicked around but he didn't notice them. "Do ya?" the Irishman asked.
"Yes sir." He lowered his voice. "It's right behind me."
Patrick glanced behind him unsurely and frowned. "Is it?"
Rose took a deep breath, closed her eyes, exhaled, and when they opened they were shingling gold. His gaze finally rested on her, drawn in by the odd coloring, and then he noticed Martha.
"Ah, right then. We'll get that sorted. See you later."
Lyle gave him a two-fingered salute and turned around. His lips twitched into a smile for half a second at the two women then he strode off without looking back.
Patrick cleared his throat meaningfully then started up the gangplank. Rose and Martha followed him silently onboard the Trucail. As Rose's feet touched the rickety wood, she had the horrible feeling that it was gonna be a long week.
On to America! Keep in mind, they're going to be in the US and Canada for a few months, so in order to avoid an arc that could practically be it's own standalone, there will probably be time skips out the wazoo. And, on another note, 2 reviews away from 1700! :D
Now. I have a very important question...