When the Doctor had left with Romana and Braxiatel to attend the crash site and analyze the debris, he fully expected to be taken to the crash site, not to a large warehouse at the edge of the Capitol. He had no time nor inclination to hide his frustration, and let it be known to them both the moment they walked into the room.
“I thought,” he began with a snarl. “That we were to be attending the actual site of the crash. Unless the Daleks have manufactured a way to materialise them into a crash scenario, this isn’t it.”
“The Gallifrey Transportation and Safety Board are still onsite at the actual crash location,” Romana answered. “Because of the sensitivity of Dalek technology, and the chance that we could ignite a full system restore, I felt it was to our benefit to have the ship transported here in pieces – specifically the security and communications hardware.”
“Makes sense,” he said with a snort. “Although….”
“There is no purpose for us to attend the site,” she countered before he could finish his thought. “How the ship crashed is not my concern as much as what danger presents outside of it.”
The Doctor prepped to argue, and to demand once again that he be allowed to destroy any of the Daleks that may have escaped the ship, but that argument was sucked back into his chest with the sound of more parts materialising neatly at the back of the room. His eyes blinked at the careful way the part was tagged and numbered with a large Red and yellow tag.
“Expect more of that,” Romana warned him gently. “It was a big ship with plenty of parts – and the analysis teams have been instructed to piece it back together here.” She paused. “Once we are finished with our own examination, of course.”
“How did you get permission from the GTSB to allow us to look at the evidence before they got a look in?” he queried as he looked over the various items set up on a long, metal, workbench. “They can’t be happy about it.”
“The GTSB operate under council guidelines,” she answered with a shrug. “They can dislike my orders as much as they like. I’m the Lord President on Council, and they have to do as I tell them to.”
She wandered toward a large monitor laid on its side beside a small dusty keyboard with a sucker-mark etched around the keys. “I believe this is the security monitor for the main communications deck,” she remarked coolly as she swept her hand in the air above it to shift off some of the dust. “The lines did connect to a series of cameras set strategically around the ship. I ordered the feeds for only two of them – the front entrance and the main command deck.”
The Doctor turned up a nose and poked a finger at the dusty and disused item. “Doesn’t look like it’s had a plunger on it for quite a while,” he murmured. “While I’m sure they aren’t fully adept at frequent dusting around their ship, This…” He tongued the roof of his mouth with disgust. “This looks like it’s a bit beyond missing a weekly here and there.”
“I know,” she agreed softly. “It’s as though the ship was completely abandoned.”
The Doctor’s lips pressed together into a scowl and he shook his head. “Yet I don’t buy it for a moment,” he growled. “Jettisoning a ship and allowing their technology to get into the hands of other species? They’d have it self destruct instead.”
“Do you think you access the security database and see the last recording?” She poked at what looked like a joystick. “That should give us some insight into what happened to force them to abandon ship.”
“Huon, likely,” Braxiatel offered. “Their species is sensitive to it – as most are. If they managed to slip into a Huon wash, then it’s likely they abandoned the ship in order to survive.”
There was the sound of another piece of debris materialising toward the back of the room. The sound actually made all there of them jump slightly.
“Is there any way we can stop them doing that?” the Doctor asked with a wince. “It’s very distracting.”
“So distracting that you haven’t even begun your analysis,” Braxiatel remarked coolly.
The Doctor flicked annoyed eyes toward his brother. “So you are clear on the methods by which I work, Brax, I do tend to analyse with my eyes before I introduce my fingers.” He held up his hands and waggled his fingers for effect. “And what I can tell you right now …” He sucked in his bottom lip and took a second to quickly take a visual stock of things. “Is that these systems were not shut down by manual means.”
The Doctor pulled his sonic from his jacket pocket and scanned it over the monitor and keyboard. His bottom lip was pursed outward and his cheeks full of air as he waited for the results to show. When they did he nodded knowingly. “Just as I thought.”
“Which would be?” Romana queried.
“Whatever took out the system – at least this part of the system – was a blast of some form.” He wandered toward another part of the desk and collected a small computer box and a handful of wires. “Depending on the type of blast, there’s no guarantee that I will be able to get any part of this operational again.”
“Please try,” Romana pressed worriedly, watching as he moved through the debris picking up odd bits and pieces as he went. “I have to know just what we have on our hands here.”
His eyes flicked up warily. “And is there any reason why you are so worried, Romana?” He dropped his eyes again and used both hands to pull open the box. Small screws shot out either side of it as they gave way and popped. “Daleks are a rather nefarious and nasty brute, but they can be contained if we are smart enough.” His smile stretched to a grin. “Which I am.”
“Modest too,” Braxietel muttered quietly.
“Dalek forces have been gathering strength over the past decade,” she admitted. “They’ve been fairly quiet, I have to admit, but as you and I both know…”
“It means that they’re up to something,’ he finished. His eyes lifted from the circuit board in his hand. “What are the matricians saying?”
“Not much,” she huffed. “Not very much at all.” She waved her hands. “Time is in flux right now, and no path is clear…”
“Except the me having to stay on Gallifrey thing,” he said with an unimpressed growl. “That path is crystal clear in their minds.” He looked back down at the circuit board and set it on the table, leaning forward with a handful of wires. His elbows were on the table as he carefully soldered wires down with his sonic. “Any idea yet why Rose is so important to this?”
“Probably to keep you grounded so you don’t run off,” Braxiatel offered with a shrug. “Something’s coming, Thete. I can feel it – we all can -- and admit it or not, when the going gets tough, the Doctor gets running.”
He lifted his eyes in a roll. “Funny you should say that, when I’ve routinely stuck around to get dirty and save things like, oh, like planets, solar systems, the universe.” He blew a puff of air onto a solder point to cool it. “Council seems to think I have the ability to get the job done, considering they never stop asking me to do their dirty work.”
“I’m being quite serious, thete.”
“So am I.” he declared as he straightened up ups back and reached across for another wire. “Whatever it is – this major event on the horizon – as soon as my wife is cleared to leave Gallifrey, we will depart.”
Romana’s voice was quiet. “Are you sure that’s what she wants?”
His eyes flicked toward her.
“I mean no disrespect, Doctor,” she said quickly. “But the two of you are building something here: a life. Together. Do you really think that going back to gallivanting across the universe putting yourself and your family in danger is what she wants?” She sighed. “And is it what you want?”
“It’s better than being tied up in a hospital for days on end and never seeing her,” he gruffed. “And by all accounts, it does seem that she’s jeopardy friendly enough that even being on Gallifrey is dangerous for her.”
“You can make a difference here, Doctor, a real difference,” she pleaded. “The universe needs you, but then, so do we.”
“Be careful, Romana,” he breathed out. His eyes blinked for clarity as he attached a powerpack to the circuit board with a pair of soldered wires. “Your sentimentality is unbecoming for a tenured member of council.”
“I blame you for that,” she accused softly.
That made him smile. “Thank you,” he said softly.
He finally stood up from his cobbled together circuit board and looked to his brother with wide eyes of hope. “Well. It’s messy, it’s rough, and it might blow us all up, but let’s see if I can get us something decent to watch on the telly.”
“Blow up?” Braxiatel hissed with worry. “Should we back up a bit?”
Romana put her hand on his arm and shook her head with a smile. “Be calm,” she said with amusement. “He’s only jesting.”
“Am I?” the Doctor asked.
Brax growled. “I can never tell.”
The Doctor offered a wink to the pair. He then took a long stride backward and aimed his sonic at the monitor. With a press of his finger on the switch, he let the device buzz to life. The monitor flickered, it went cold, then it flickered again. “Come on,” he urged as he took a step forward and pressed the tip of the device into the centre of the monitor. With a hum, and then a rush of sound, the monitor lit up brightly to show a terrifyingly high def feed of a command deck full of life … and full of Daleks.
“By Rassilon,” Romana breathed out. “The ship is full!”
Braxiatel shot a glare of panic toward his brother. “Thete. Do you have a time stamp on this recording? How old is it?”
The Doctor shook his head, his eyes wide and equally as horrified as the two Time Lords beside him. “I don’t know, Brax, But if you give me a minute, maybe I can…” He stopped short as the Command deck of the Dalek ship began to shake and shudder. Control panels sparked and many of the Daleks began to roll around with urgency.
“They’re at the transduction barrier,” Romana blurted out, as one of the Daleks sounded out warning of approach to Gallifrey. Her head flicked to the Doctor. “The barrier would render the ship incapable of flight, but it wouldn’t destroy all systems like this.” She gasped. “Doctor, there has to be almost a hundred Daleks in there!”
“There are 550 Daleks on any battleship,” the Doctor growled darkly.
“Rassilon,” Braxiatel huffed out. “Which means we have that many of them in the forests of Gallifrey.” He went for his phone, but the Doctor stopped him with a hand on his wrist.
“Just wait,” the Doctor cautioned. “Let’s see how this plays out, first.”
“Are you insane?” Braxiatel yelled. “See how it plays out? The quicker the better, man.”
The monitor showed the Command deck in panic as the ship hurtled through the transduction barrier and down to the ground below. All three of them jumped back as the monitor shook with the final collision on land, as though they were on the deck itself. Surprising all of them, the command deck was still alive with Both Daleks and systems as the crash came to an abrupt halt.
“This ship is still active,” Romana remarked. “But how?”
“That’s the question,” the Doctor agreed as he leaned down with an elbow on the table to watch the feed. “That’s the question indeed.” He watched closely all of the movement on the screen, deciphering the glyphs of Skaro, and reaching his own determination of the state of the ship. His chin was in his hand, which made talking slightly uncomfortable. “To the best of my knowledge, Dalek technology doesn’t contain any form of Huon energy,” he managed. “And if they did, I don’t know that they’d know how to wield it without killing themselves.” He rose to a stand and pressed both hands into the table. “Based on the damage we can see here to the ship’s controls. I can only guess that somewhere, and somehow, they had to have initiated a weapon and fired it like an EMP blast across …” He huffed out. “No. Yes. Maybe. No.” He clutched at the table’s edge. “It makes no sense. None of it.”
“A blast makes sense, though,” Romana offered. “When Brax and I were chasing the wolves to find Rose, we both got hit with a Huon blast.” She looked toward Braxiatel. “Knocked the both of us off our feet.”
The Doctor looked toward them. “That could be important. If they’ve determined how to wield Huon to make themselves invisible to our scanners…” He stopped when the feed from the deck showed Rose being escorted onboard. His hearts fell into his stomach. She already had a trail of blood from the wound on her head. And her gait was very unsteady…
…They’d hurt her before she even made it onboard.
Her name passed through his lips, and he felt himself falter as she tethered herself with the shackle and began a very Human battle of wits against the pepper pots from Skaro. Part of him was filled with pride at how calmly she was taking her imprisonment, and how she didn’t let the threat of extermination mar her efforts to insult and off put them.
“She’s got fight in her,” Brax muttered.
“She does,” the Doctor agreed quietly, trying hard not to focus too much on his wife’s perilous predicament, and trying to hear the discussions between Daleks. He had to find out where these creatures were. He wanted to find every single one of them, and remind them why they called him the Oncoming Storm.
Not a single one would survive – he’d make absolutely sure of that.
He felt Romana’s hand tenderly cover his as the command deck quietened and he hear Rose, with a failing voice and failing consciousness as what was to become of her. When she was told she was to be exterminated, and his beloved wife told them to go ahead and do it, the Doctor couldn’t shield the sob that drew from his throat.
“She made it out, Doctor,” Romana reminded him. “She’s safe.”
The monitor lit up brightly, the orange shifting to a brilliantly blinking yellow. There was a voice, a two-toned disembodied voice that fell from the walls beyond where Rose’s beautiful human voice would be able to reach. It told the Daleks in no uncertain terms that they were not going to harm Rose Tyler today.
“Who is on our ship? Identify yourself.”
The voice shifted wo a whisper of warning, a ghostly tune that promised destruction. “I am the Bad Wolf… And you’re here far too early.”
Panic on the deck ensured at that moment, with the Daleks firing their rays any which way they could. The shrill sound of them filled the warehouse, and made each member of the three Time Lord party cringe and shudder.
Against the wall, Rose struggled weakly to free herself. She looked left and then right, her head shaking as she breathed out the word “no” several times.
And then, amidst it all, this tiny, injured human suddenly let out a fierce cry of her husbands name. Her chest thrust forward and her head threw backward. The cry carried on, loud and strong, until she no longer had air left in her lungs to expel it. And then, in a moment, her entire body tensed out and a bright disc of light tore throughout the ship, instantly turning Daleks to dust where they stood and slicing apart the lights and control panels… the feed cut out.
The three Time Lords stood staring at the now dark monitor with varying expression of horror on their faces.
“What did I just see?” Braxiatel murmured worriedly. “Tell me that I didn’t just see that.” He looked to the Doctor. “Tell me that I didn’t just watch your wife explode…”
“And wipe out every single Dalek on that ship,” Romana finished.
The Doctor was utterly silent, and incredibly still. His eyes were wide on the darkened screen, but the vision of Rose exploding with Huon energy wouldn’t escape him.
“Thete,” his brother urged him. “What’s going on. What is she?”
“Human,” he croaked with a wince in his brow. “She’s human.”
He pointed at the darkened monitor. “No human is capable of that, Thete. None.” He lifted his hands to clutch at his hair. “By Rassilon’s Robes if anyone on council sees this.”
“No one can see this,” the Doctor breathed almost inaudibly. “No one…”
“Doctor,” Romana warned when he lifted his sonic to the contraption on the table. “That may be the only evidence we have to prove that there aren’t any Daleks…” She yelped and covered her eyes with the spray of sparks and metal as it exploded under the pressure of the Sonic. “Doctor!”
“Make something up,” he snarled. “Tell them anything that doesn’t involve what you just saw on that feed.”
“They see this,” he warned. “And they’ll weaponize her.” He turned and raced to the door, desperate to get to the transport to take him back to his wife.
There was no way this would be kept in the dark. The GTSB techs would no doubt cobble that thing back together, and they’d see exactly what he just saw … and they’d take her from him. Take her and turn her into a weapon.
He was not going to allow that to happen.
Forget the order from council that he be grounded, and bugger them if they think he wasn’tcapable of enough jiggery pokery to be able to bypass any damn controls they’d tampered with on his TARDIS.
He was getting them out of there… As far from Gallifrey as he could take them.