The ground quaked beneath their feet, rolling and shuttering as the whole planet shook. It was as if the very earth itself was tearing itself free, cracking and peeling like a hard-boiled egg. They ran, faster than they ever had, running as if their very existence itself depended on it.

Behind them the Kolitan Soldiers shouldered their massive projectile rifles. A constant "pop-pop-rat-a-tat" came from them as they shot their horrible, barbaric and victious hot lead at the fleeing group.

Jack led the group, a large laser rifle clutched in his grasp, picking off stray soldiers as they stepped into the path between them and the safety of the TARDIS. Behind him, sword drawn and glinting, was Lady Vastra. Her green skinned face was tightly drawn, a mask of pain on her face. Her heart ached deeply still from the loss of Jenny. Her sword slashed viciously, tearing into yet another soldier. Teeth bared, she withdrew her blade from the massive soldier's body, watching coldly as his body sank lifeless to the ground. Sickly dark blood dripped from the blade, and as she ran again toward their refuge, a wicked bloody black trail followed her.

Martha was next to follow, legs pumping as she ran. She clutched her broken arm at her side awkwardly. She ran, silently biting her lip as pain racked through her at every step.

Next was River, pistol in one hand and clutching her daughter Aydra to her chest with the other. The Doctor ran beside her, pushing her ahead, desperate to get his precious family to safety. Aydra, dark eyes wide, fussed quietly as the world warred around her.

A bright flash blinded them all for a moment. The ground gave an almighty shake, and they were all thrown unceremoniously to the ground. Behind them the last remaining wall surrounding the core fell. Finally free of its attempted prison, the Creature that protected Time threw back its shackles.

"We don't have much time," the Doctor growled. "We have to get to the TARDIS before the planet itself is torn to pieces." He lifted River gently to her feel, pausing only long enough to check his infant daughter.

"Doctor," gasped Martha, who was painfully clutching her injured arm to her chest. He whipped his sonic screwdriver out, quickly putting it into its med setting and working to mend the shattered bones.

"There," he whispered, helping her to her feet. "Now," he announced to the group, "run. The TARDIS isn't far." The soldiers behind them appeared to have regained their footing as well. The air was again riddled with the pops and thuds of bullets hitting all around them. "RUN! NOW!"

They ran again, cresting the hill and catching sight of their destination. The ground shook again, causing River to stumble. The Doctor ran to her, and half lifting-half pushing, helped her to her feet.

Jack and Vastra reached the TARDIS first. Bursting through her doors, panting and sweating, Jack skidded to a stop, spinning to offer cover fire.

Bullets popped and whizzed around them. Martha was next in, stumbling into the TARDIS, collapsing to the floor in a gasping heap.

River ran, desperate to reach their haven, a mere 20 meters from the ship. "Keep running!" the Doctor screamed from behind her. She felt his hand, which had been bracing her shoulders, slip away from her.

In one smooth movement that scarcely broke his stride, he twisted his lanky body. River spared one quick glance behind her. There he was, Her Doctor, running full tilt toward the TARDIS, sonic in hand as he twisted his body to send out one last sonic blast toward their pursuers. With the familiar whirring sound of the sonic filling the air, River heard a few pops as a number of the rifles overloaded behind them. As River closed in on the final meters to safety, she could hear the final pops of gunfire. Stumbling across her threshold, River ran straight to the TARDIS's main controls.

She instantly set course, and just as the Doctor passed through the door, they took off. The familiar thrumming whir was the only sound for a moment. River looked down at her daughter, inspecting her closely. Aydra's eyes were wide, small fist clutched to her small perfect mouth, but other than scared, she appeared unharmed. River glanced around the room.

Martha sat, catching her breath right where she had landed. Vastra stood nearby, gripping the railing tightly, lost in her thoughts. Jack was not far from her, huffing as he tossed the massive laser rifle he had carried onto the jump seat. Everyone appeared shaken, but safe and sound. "Made it. All in one piece," said River as she turned to her eyes to her husband.

He had not left the doors. He stood, leaning heavily against the closed door, sonic still in hand. His head hung low, his hair dripping with sweat, chest heaving. "Not….quite," he muttered weakly. To River's horror, his long legs gave way, knees buckling, and he fell to the floor. The sonic fell to the floor, and as River ran to his side, he slumped against the door, coughing hard.

A trill of panic gripped her as she knelt next to him. His dark coat parted and she saw that he was clutching a hand to his chest, three gaping, bloody holes sending a frightening red stain across his chest. "I'm sorry," he said softly, reaching his other unbloodied hand out to her. "I had- to make sure- you – got to her safely…."

Aydra gave a plaintive cry, her tiny hand reaching out toward her father. He coughed again, a sickening wet cough, his color draining from him. River's eyes filled tears and all around her it was as if the room was gone. Her world was him, and he was slipping away from her. She heard Martha scramble to them, saw the panicked look flash across her face as the Doctor's life blood spilled onto the floor. With a tiny shake of his head, the Doctor gently pushed Martha away. "River," he whispered, reaching up with his hand to gently touch her face. She clasp it tightly, drawing it to her cheek. She breathed in his scent, felt the softness of his skin,. Tears streamed down her cheeks and onto the floor of the TARDIS, mixing with the fallen blood.

She looked into his youthful face, into the sparkling green eyes that hid his wounded ancient soul. Sweeping his dark hair from his impish face, she traced the light scar along his forehead that marred his perfect face. She knew it, this was it. His time. Hungrily her eyes searched his face, memorizing every inch of it. This would be the last time she saw this face.

Suddenly, a golden glow began to seep from him. Slowly, and with great pain, he pushed himself to his feet. Standing there, he glanced around the room. Martha stood nearby, tears streaking down her cheeks unwiped. A weak smile graced her lips as the Doctor nodded a quiet thanks to her. Jack, eyes shinning with tears, walked to Martha's side. He gripped her shoulders. As he looked at the Doctor, tears fell from Jacks eyes. With a sad smile, he gave a little wink. The Doctor smiled weakly. Vastra, ever stoic, lifted her chin almost defiantly, then nodded slowly at the Doctor.

Finally he looked at his wife and child. He reached down painfully and kissed his daughter gently on the forehead. Aydra cooed softly back. The golden glow was getting stronger. He knew he only had moments. He looked deeply into River's eyes. Gently he reached a hand to her wild hair, touching the bouncy curls. Gazing deeply into her eyes for a moment, he pulled her close and leaned down to touch his forehead to hers. Her mind was instantly filled with images. In her minds eye, she saw herself, but as He saw her. She felt his love, his passion, his adoration for her and for their daughter. She locked it away in her heart as she opened her eyes. "Remember," he whispered softly, "that I have always loved you." He kissed her deeply, a final loving and passionate kiss. For one brief second, it was as if time itself stopped. His hands in her hair, he kissed her goodbye. As he finally broke the kiss, she stepped back.

The golden glow was everywhere. His face glowed brightly. With one last sly grin and a defiant "Geronimo!" the light burst from him.

It was blinding. Everyone blinked at its brightness. Enveloped in the golden glow, the Doctor began to change. His features contorted and a wordless scream left his lips. The brightness burst from his hands and his whole body changed. Finally as the glow stopped the Doctor stumbled forward, falling to his knees, exhausted.

Breathless, he looked at his hands. They were broad and pale and strong. Looking down at his blood stained shirt he saw that his formally narrow shoulders were now broad and deep.

He heard feet moving nearby, and as he looked up, there came a breathless collective gasp from the room. River came to his side, handing him a small mirror, her face unreadable. Sad, yes, but mixed with something else.

Steeling himself, he looked into the mirror. He had bright blue eyes; shining, blazing against his pale skin. A narrow nose; not too long and lightly freckled, was the next thing he saw. "Freckles, freckles are good," he thought. He smiled, and watched as his smile produced dimpled cheeks.

He heard voices around him muttering. "Nice," came from Jack, followed by a slightly coy "Very nice," from River.

Slowly he got to his feet, and in the mirror he lifted his eyes to his hair. A broad smile spread across his face. Atop his head was a slightly short mop of curls. Ginger curls. With a deep laugh and wide smile, he stated "Wicked!"