Ok, so I definitely think I've kept you guys waiting long enough. Sorry about that. I also want to apologize for any confusion—the Doctor was a prisoner on the Dalek ship during the Time War, meaning sometime between his eighth and ninth regeneration. There is no 'future Doctor' (I'm not nearly as ambitious as Mr. Moffat), which is why the Eleventh Doctor both knew what the ship was and what was written on the scroll—he'd already done it. So hopefully that clears all that up.
At any rate, I'm constantly inspired by your reviews, favorites, and follows, and it really motivates me to continue writing. Thanks so much for your support, and enjoy!
Dobby's Polka-Dotted Sock
"Thank you for coming on such short notice, Colonel—"
"There is no need for thanks, Director, it is merely my duty," the officer replied, crisp and clean-cut as ever. "And anyway, it sounds a rather urgent matter."
Kate sighed; it was. Just minutes ago their radars had picked up a new alien craft slowly descending through the Earth's atmosphere—the Shadow Proclamation, she had no doubt. Though the UNIT director had never had any experience with the intergalactic body, she knew it was up to her to make sure this first encounter did not go badly. And if it did, she'd need her military sector at the ready.
"Colonel Mace, the taskforce sent into the Dalek craft returned with a scroll, a key piece of missing evidence to what happened in the Last Great Time War," she briefed him. "The Shadow Proclamation is on their way to retrieve that evidence…and to try the man that evidence implicates."
"Where is the Doctor?"
"In custody." The older man looked just as concerned by that as she felt. "He's insisted. We've done our best to make him comfortable, however."
"Do we know what will happen in this trial?" Colonel Mace inquired. "Their court proceedings, their punishments?"
"I'm afraid what knowledge we have is small. The Doctor has said that it will be a Tribunal. Whatever misgivings I have about this on a personal level, Colonel, I must agree with the Doctor. We must cooperate with them."
The officer nodded. "Yes, you're right, of course." He hesitated a moment, then added, "But if it is at all possible, I think you ought to request that the Tribunal hold their trial here, on Earth." She opened her mouth, but he hurried on, "I realize that we cannot hope to combat them should they become militant, but I think it is within Earth's best interest to make ourselves part of the proceedings. And after all, should they go back to—wherever it is they come from—we shall have no way of knowing what has become of the Doctor."
"You're right on all points, Colonel," she finally managed to get in, and he snapped his mouth shut, looking just the slightest bit relieved. "Since this is the hour upon which Earth becomes part of the intergalactic community, I believe we should participate, as much as possible. I am also concerned for our friend."
"Oh, I never said," the Colonel blustered, obviously uncomfortable for having been called on his feelings, and she actually managed a smile.
"Of course not."
"Ma'am." 2nd Lieutenant Jenkins was at the door, his face pale. "They're here."
She tensed in her chair before nodding stiffly. "Thank you, lieutenant. Have someone bring the scroll from Evidence."
"Yes, ma'am. They've also requested the Doctor. Shall I get him?"
Kate exchanged a glance with the Colonel. "Yes." The young soldier departed and she and Colonel Mace both stood. The older man held the door for her as she exited and Kate held her head high as she exited the base, ignoring the excited, nervous whispers from personnel that followed in her wake. They passed a room that held the remaining three taskforce members as well as the rest of the Doctor's friends and family, and the whole group stood as one, filing out of the room and making something of a procession behind them.
Kate stepped out into the sunshine to see the Doctor restrained, standing to her left next to the lieutenant. A corporal on his other side held the scroll. But just in front of her was the real aweing thing.
A woman, an albino wearing a black gown, stood flanked by two Judoon. She and the Colonel approached the impressive-looking trio. "I am Director Stewart, the head of UNIT. I understand that we have evidence and a- suspect of yours. We are more than willing to cooperate with you." She motioned the corporal forward and he handed the scroll to one of the walking rhinos.
"We are pleased to hear this," the albino replied, though her tone and expression hardly gave away any emotion. "The evidence shall be processed. If it contains what we believe, the Tribunal will commence with the Architect presiding. Doctor," here the albino faced the Time Lord, "if this scroll contains what we believe, you are guilty, and the Tribunal will be to decide your sentence. Do you understand?"
"Yes. If the court permits, then I plead guilty. It'll save you the trouble," he added, and Kate saw several of his friends give various looks of despair and frustration. She had trouble maintaining a neutral expression herself; the alien seemed to be doing everything in his power to guarantee his own doom.
"Very well, it has been noted," the woman replied. "The Tribunal will then hear the statements of those who entered the ship, and the Doctor's explanation for his actions."
"Will the Tribunal not be providing legal counsel?" She inquired, feeling rather alarmed at the prospect that it was no longer a question of innocence or guilt, but merely of how guilty.
"The Tribunal is a neutral body," the albino turned surprised eyes on her. "We do not have your concepts of prosecution and defense. The Architect will hear an explanation from the Doctor. If he would prefer to have someone speak for him, however, he is welcome to do so."
"I- I see." She shared another look with Colonel Mace and gathered her resolve. "In that case, I would ask that the Tribunal consider meeting on Earth, as that would allow the Doctor that option more easily."
"Such a request is permissible," the albino informed them. "Very well. Tomorrow the Architect shall formally hear the Doctor's plea, and at this time it must be decided if he will have someone speak for him and who." A Judoon stepped forward toward the Time Lord, and Kate realized quickly that they were intending to incarcerate the alien on their ship. Not if she could help it.
"We would also like to offer our services in holding the Doctor until the Tribunal is over. We have the necessary facilities and it would allow his friends and family a chance to see him." It was the least she could do for them, after all. The whole group stood just in her peripheral vision, tense and silent. "We can restrict him to one visitor at a time if security is your worry."
The albino woman was silent for some time. "That is acceptable." Was the final response, and with no further comment, she and her two guards turned and ascended the ramp that led into a sleek, black spaceship. She nodded to the lieutenant and the corporal, who escorted the Doctor back into the base, and then she and Colonel Mace approached the others.
"Thank you," River said immediately before she could get a word in. "You've made the best of this situation."
"The Doctor has long been a great help to UNIT, Professor Song," the Colonel replied. "We are more than ready to return the favor."
"But what can we do?" Rory spoke up. "I mean, he's said he's guilty."
"Not like he could have said otherwise. Even without the scroll, he's said as much to all of us at some point," Jack shrugged.
"From my understanding, what the Tribunal is here to decide is what punishment befits the crime," Kate told them, but Donna scoffed.
"I think he's had punishment enough! What right do they have butting in, anyway?"
"It's their job, Donna," Martha stated sadly. "And the Doctor's always said he can't be above the law."
"But they've got to realize he had to do it," Mickey countered, looking to Kate as well as the rest of them. "I mean, he was in war. And sometimes you have to make tough choices, right?"
None of them said anything for some time, and she found her eyes drawn to Amy, who had been silent till now with a serious expression.
"He can't be allowed to speak for himself," the Scottish woman finally said determinedly. "Or we'll never see him again."
"I agree," River sighed, "But the Architect will not look favorably on one of us speaking for him. For one thing, half of us will be giving statements about the incident, and nearly the rest of us are family. And UNIT should try to remain neutral on this as well, so we can't use anyone from your staff."
"So you would recommend someone who is well spoken and educated, and can vouch for the Doctor, but who is not directly involved in this incident," Colonel Mace summarized succinctly. The archeologist nodded.
"I could try…" Sarah Jane mused aloud before looking up sharply. "Kate, if I could find and convince the person we need, could you have them here by tomorrow?"
"I'm more than willing to provide transportation," she agreed, not even caring that the journalist had not used her title. The beginnings of hope were stirring in her chest.
"Then I need to make some phone calls," the brunette said, striding to the base.
"Ok, great," Rory noted, "But even if we get someone, how do they know what to do?"
"Do you think they'll let us have records of previous cases, just to see what's expected?" Martha inquired.
"I don't see why not. We'll certainly ask," Kate answered, making a mental note of it.
"Ok, so we'll be doing quite a bit of reading up on the Shadow Proclamation," Jack said, than added, "And if we could get something on the Time War, that would be good."
"It'll be hard," River noted. "I might be able to persuade the TARDIS to open straight into the library—she's completely sealed otherwise—but he has her randomize the shelving just to make books on it impossible to find."
"Leave that to me," Jenny stated suddenly, "I know just the people." And she followed Sarah Jane into the base.
"Do you think he would talk about it?" Amy asked the curly-haired professor tentatively. "If we asked?" The other woman shrugged helplessly.
"Before we try that, I would like to speak to the Doctor beforehand," Kate spoke up. "I'd like to know his thoughts on how UNIT has proceeded so far." They all nodded their agreement, and so without further delay she turned and made for the base herself.
"Make sure he's eaten something today!" Donna called after her, and she glanced back to see several of them smiling at the typical remark.
Kate made her way swiftly through the corridors to the very center, and then down a flight of steps. They had converted a portable laboratory into a holding room for the Time Lord, and she waited patiently as the sergeant on guard unlocked the door.
The Doctor was in the chair they'd provided him, facing away from the door and his shoulders hunched. He clearly hadn't slept the night before; the bed was still perfectly made. When he heard her enter, he stood with a relatively pleasant smile in place, considering the circumstances.
"Ah, Kate. Forgive me, Director, but I don't believe we've been properly introduced."
"We haven't," she agreed, "but it's hardly necessary." Still she shook his hand. "I hope you've found the- accommodations suitable."
"Oh, they're fine, yes," he waved it off, like it hardly mattered, and Kate took a deep breath before getting down to business.
"Do you think—it seems rude of me to ask your advice, considering—but have I represented the Earth well to the Shadow Proclamation?" She did her best not to let any nervousness show, but her stiff shoulders relaxed under his warm smile.
"Earth couldn't ask for better."
"Thank you. You should know, Doctor, that though we will cooperate with them—whatever their decision—UNIT will do its best to provide any assistance you require." She felt so torn, for here was the man—the hero—of her father's tales, and it was her responsibility to lock him up all over again to await some terrible future.
"It's hardly necessary," he used her earlier phrase, and she had to admit in her head that Amy had been right; they couldn't leave this to the Doctor on his own. It seemed he was unwilling or unable to help himself. Perhaps he didn't think he deserved it.
"Then I suppose all I can offer you is…an apology," she said at last, and his eyes went wide in surprise. "Looking back, if I'd called the taskforce back when you said, we certainly wouldn't be in the situation we're in now. I was—"
"You were doing your job," he interrupted gently, "Certainly more than I was doing. I wanted the taskforce to return because it was dangerous, yes, but because I didn't want them to find what they did. Shameful, after everything." He hung his head. "I always promised I would answer for my actions once the ship was found. So I should thank you for making me live up to that promise."
She stubbornly shook her head, not wanting—never wanting—praise for this.
"You would have had to send someone in there anyway in order to dismantle the thing," he pointed out while tilting his head to meet her downcast eyes, as if reading her guilt-ridden thoughts.
"Be that as it may, I am sorry that my orders are what have led you to this, Doctor."
"Don't be." He took a breath, and then the corner of his mouth quirked up in an almost-smile. "It's what your father would have done."
She felt as though the air had been stolen from her lungs, so great was her shock. Still, Kate managed to reply to the now fondly smiling Time Lord. "How did you know?"
"How could I not? I see you dropped the Lethbridge," he noted, though she heard the question in it.
"I didn't want to rely on his legacy. I felt that I should attain my position on my own merit." He nodded, obviously impressed with her views.
"And you've done very well, too." She did her best to hide the proud smile. He grinned all the same, before his eyes got a slightly faraway look. "We didn't always get along, the Brigadier and me. Sometimes I was right and sometimes he was right, and sometimes neither of us was and we had to pretend. But no matter how angry he could make me at the time—infuriated, really—I always respected him. He always chose to do the right thing, even if it was hard, even if he didn't want to." Here, his eyes locked with hers and she knew that while they were talking about her father, they also were not. "It's one of the reasons I'm going through with this," he finished softly.
"I think I understand," she said finally, and he gave her a grateful look. She realized now, why he wouldn't run, why he'd plead guilty, when all the while they'd thought him mad. Because not to do so would be just as wrong as punishing him.
The Doctor was doing the right thing. So they had to make sure to do the right thing for him as well.
Kate turned to exit the room. "Notify the sergeant immediately if there's anything you need," she reminded, before setting out to get those court files. She was more determined than ever to help her father's oldest friend.
"It would be really helpful if you had the name of the book, Jess. Or the author. Or if you knew the genre," Aaron sighed and tried not to simply drop his head onto the desk in sheer frustration. Jessica Flenn had apparently been assigned some summer reading, but had lost the list of books she was allowed to choose from. So she had come to the desk seeking assistance.
'The one about that boy who does something', however, was not very descriptive, and so the library-page was having difficulty in doing much at all to help.
"Well, I mean, do you have a copy of the list?" She finally asked, and he resisted the urge to roll his eyes.
"We're in different grades, Jess, I don't get the same assignments as you. And this is a public library, so they don't have the list, either. Couldn't you borrow the list from one of your classmates?"
"Maybe. Allie might have it. Thanks, Aaron!" And the blonde girl turned and walked away. He sighed again, this time in relief, before a buzzing noise had him jumping to attention, Checking his mobile as surreptitiously as possible, he couldn't keep from grinning when he saw the name: Jenny.
Aaron decided it was high time he took a break, and ducked into the back room. "Hey, Jenny, what's—"
"Hi Aaron, I've got a lot to explain and it's really complicated, but I need a super-huge favor," the blonde greeted in a rush, and he merely blinked, used to her fast-paced speaking.
"Ok, what is it? Is it about that spaceship on the golf course?"
"Yes. Well, they've started taking apart the ship, but it's more about what was in the ship than the ship itself, and well—my dad's been arrested."
"What?" Aaron yelped in shock. The Doctor was in prison? He tried to imagine it, and yet the idea was so strange he couldn't really picture anything. "Why?"
"Short story is that the Shadow Proclamation—this big, intergalactic judge-machine—is putting him on trial for the Time War. Long story is that the ship was a Dalek prison ship that they used to hold my dad during the Time War, where he apparently drew up the plans for ending it and time-locking Gallifrey, and Martha found the plans, the Shadow Proclamation found out, and now they're putting him on trial."
"Woah, that's- terrible," he finally said, hardly believing it. "Well, what can I do? What's the favor?" He wasn't sure what, if anything, he could do.
"None of us really know anything about how Shadow Proclamation trials work," she admitted, and now that he was focusing on it he could clearly hear how worried she was. "And dad already plead guilty. So they're giving us court records, and now if we want to have any hope of getting him off—or at least getting him the lightest sentence—we need to look for example cases so we know what to do. And I figured…this is sort of your thing."
He had to process all of that for a moment. "Wait. You want me to help you search the records to figure out a way to get him the lightest sentence?"
"Uh-huh." She sounded very tense.
"Are you still at the golf course?" He asked immediately. "Cause I can get there tomorrow—I get a week off of work in the summer."
"Yes, we're at the golf course! Oh, Aaron, thank you so much! It won't just be boring court cases either, probably. River's going to try and get the TARDIS to at least let us in the library—we figure the more facts we have on the Time War, the better."
"It's not a problem," he reassured, "I want to help." His head was still spinning from all this, but he knew above all else that he would do anything for Jenny, and the Doctor.
"Are you absolutely certain? I'm not sure I'm the right person for the job—"
"Of course you are," Sarah Jane hastened to contradict, not willing to give up now that she'd finally gotten a response from someone. "And anyway, Elizabeth Shaw is on Moonbase, Jo Grant can't be reached—probably in some jungle somewhere—I wouldn't ask this of you, or anyone, if I didn't have to, but please. The Doctor needs help, and he won't ask for it himself."
"Well that's hardly changed." Came the amused reply. "I'm just not sure we're all ready."
"If things go badly, you might not get another chance," she warned, not wanting to use scare-tactics, but realizing the urgency of this moment. She'd spent seemingly hours on this phone trying to contact someone, and she knew, she just knew if they agreed, they might be able to pull this off.
"You're right." It was said with a sigh. "No point in delaying any further. I can't promise you anything, but I will try my best to be there tomorrow."
"Thank you," she replied. "Thank you so much. You know, I ought to tell you you're something of a legend, to those of us who've heard about you from him."
"Really? You wouldn't think it if you'd been there. I have to say, I'll be interested to see what he's got to say when—well, I'd better get ready if I want to hear it at all. Good day."
"Good day," she said at last, and heard the click on the end of the line. Sarah Jane placed the phone down and did her best to look on the bright side. It seemed that help could very well be on the way. And if it did arrive, it might shock the Doctor out of his guilt-ridden, morally-obligated state long enough to save himself for once.
Alright, so I think this chapter was a bit less on the angsty side, so that's a slight plus. Of course, you'll all have to wait and see who it is that Sarah Jane has called in to help save the day. I'd be most interested to hear any guesses, though. At any rate, thanks for your continued patience and feedback, thanks for reading, and please review!