Chapter 1: A Grey and Boring Day
Meet April and Harriet, two perfectly normal Whovians. But not everything is as it seems, and disaster is about to strike.
Chapter 1: A Grey and Boring Day
It wasn't a dark and stormy night, or any day at all suitable for drama. It was a normal day, with a normal temperature. Pretty, but there were still puddles on the road from the morning's drizzle and the sky looked a tinge grey at times. So very…normal.
April hated normal.
She was walking home from school when It happened. This event was so strange, so important to her life, that she would decide it deserved a capitol letter. Even in her thoughts, she always called this event It. If you listen hard enough, you could hear capitalization.
April thought of herself as very much your standard science-fiction geek, and used the word both as a proud battle-cry and a shield to hide behind. Glasses, messy hair, back sore from all the books she carried around in her backpack. If you asked her, she would call herself "hideous", but although she certainly wasn't beautiful, she wasn't ugly either. That is, if she got rid of the pencil behind her ear, wore something other than a shirt with a giant TARDIS on it, and took the time to get the knots out of her hair. All of which would be blasphemy to geekdom, in her opinion, so she was very much content with all the mean kids shouting "geek" at her. She took it as a sign that she was successful in her goals.
As such, she knew all about the butterfly effect and alternate universes and weird stuff like that, stuff that would make Jeremy Rice stare at her with his mouth gaping open for five whole minutes as she ran away. April wished she could have seen his reaction to her explanation of Quantum Theory in person, but she had been too busy running away.
For the rest of her life, April would wonder if this all would have turned out different if a strange idiot in a blue box hadn't walked out of said box in the Cretaceous Period and accidentally stepped on a butterfly while he was running away from a Zygon that crash-landed on Earth and was hell-bent on marrying him.
She would wonder if this would all have gone different if Jeremy Rice had stared for four minutes instead of five a week ago.
Or what if he had stared for six?
"Please," Ava said, laughing as she brushed her thick dark hair behind her ears, "kill me now."
"Oh, come off it," Elaine responded. "My singing's not that bad."
"It is to," Harriet chimed in. Her brown braids bounced on her shoulders as she talked.
"Now you're ganging up on me," Elaine said, grabbing her backpack.
"Yep," Ava said cheerfully.
"April, back me up here," Elaine said, pushing down the book that April had been attempting to read while walking through the hallway.
"Um," April said, slightly confused. "What?"
"Elaine's singing's pretty terrible, right?" Harriet asked. She jumped up to see over Elaine's shoulder. "Oh, hi Mike!"
"Hi!" A random boy that April had never talked to in her life said.
"'course not!" April defended her fried, pulling her book back up. She'd lost her place, and she was at the climax.
"She just wants to read," Elaine said. "That doesn't count!"
"Does to!" Harriet said.
"Do you three wanna come over to my house later?" Elaine asked, a moment later. "My mom's out, so we can watch as much Doctor Who as we want."
"You know," Ava said slowly. "The beginning of that sentence…"
"Ava!" Harriet said. "We're not like them."
"Yeah," April said. "We're the little angels every parent wants to have. I think I can come."
April would later wonder what would happen if she had said no. But she could probably blame some butterfly or random Medieval cleric named Bob for her decision. Time worked like that; she was pretty sure. Random things could influence other random things and create a chain reaction that changed the world.
Taking out her iPhone, April typed a quick 'yes' to her mother. Her friends were very predictable, but that's partially why she liked them. She didn't care about being friends with someone surprising, or loyal, or even smart. She just wanted someone to watch Doctor Who with who didn't take too much effort to be friends with.
If it took too much effort, she could always just hide away in her room and watch Doctor Who from there. At least, that's what she told herself. Secretly, April was very happy that she had friends who would put up with her constant references to an obscure British TV show.
"I can come too," Harriet said. "Harriet?"
"Sorry, viola lessons," April said. "But I can come over at four? Will you still be around then?"
"Well," Elaine said, "I was thinking about re-watching The Pandorica Opens and The Big Bang, so I think so."
"Seriously?" Ava asked. "Moffat lover!"
"Hey, Moffat's good," April defended.
"Yeah, at least he wasn't Chibnall!" Harriet added cheerfully.
"But Chibnall's not bad either!" April insisted.
"Yeah, right," Elaine said.
"Yeah," April said sincerely, "right. So," she said, before anyone could contradict her again. "We'll take Elaine's bus?" Ava waved goodbye as she hopped on Bus H.
"Sounds good," Harriet said.
"Hey, what's that?" April asked, running over to the grass by the High School when she spotted a strange object lying there.
"What's what?" Harriet asked curiously.
"Come on," Elaine said. "Mrs. Richards doesn't like late-comers."
April bent down to find a strange device. Taking off her blue glasses, she could spot what appeared to be some sort of battery, with wires running all throughout it. Absurdly thin wires in weird colors. It had several bulbs on it, all of which appeared to be broken or burnt out.
Harriet knelt down by it, ignoring the busses that were beginning to leave the bus circle. "What do you think it –"
"Don't pick it up!" April said, stopping her friend's hands. She looked at it closer, holding back her long auburn hair from the strange device.
"You think it's dangerous?" Harriet asked.
"Could be some sort of bomb. Why'd you pick it up? Talk about genre blindness."
"We're not in a science-fiction story," Harriet protested. "Honestly, April, you believe in this stuff a little bit too –" she saw April's face. "I'm only kidding."
"Oh," April said quietly. "Sorry. Right. So…no!" Harriet had picked up the strange device.
"No countdown, so it's not a bomb."
"Not how bombs work," April said, exasperated. "You don't just go around picking up random—"
"April! Harriet!" Elaine shouted. The bus was driving away.
"C'mon!" Harriet said, dragging April to her feet and running towards the bus. "Let's go!" The three girls chased after the bus, feet pounding on the blacktop as they attempted to reach it in time.
"Give me a moment!" April said, hunched over and breathing heavily. "I can't – can't breathe."
"You need more practice running," Harriet said, looking nervously at the bus. It briefly stopped for the traffic officer and then continued onto the road. "We're too late." She looked down at her shoe, and reached down to tie it.
"My mom can –" April began. But she never managed to finish her sentence.
Jeremy Rice was cool, and he was very concerned about staying cool. If that meant a few eggs got cracked to make a cool omelet, no big deal. Cracking eggs was fun…not that he'd ever admit it. Enjoying 7th and 8th grade Home Economics was definitely not cool in the slightest ever in a million years. But when the eggs stood for people, well, what difference did that make? He'd happily bully a few annoying geeky girls if it meant he was still cool.
So, of course, why wouldn't he give some of his friends a ride in his car? Why wouldn't he turn the music up to a maximum so that he can't hear anything outside? Rap was cool, and Jeremy Rice was cool. A match made in heaven.
And cool kids don't refuse dares. Not that Jeremy Rice was even thinking of refusing when his friends offered him three cans of beer in the boy's bathroom during lunchtime. It never even crossed his head that this was a stupid, ridiculous idea. Cool kids don't think like that, and Jeremy Rice was most definitely cool. He certainly did not think about how he was going to be driving his friends home for a party that day after school, speakers blasting rap music so that he didn't hear the two girls in front of his car until it was too late.
Jeremy Rice was cool, and he was very keen to prove that he was still cool after that really really annoying April Storm girl got him gaping at some weird thing about a cat and electrons.
He was so busy being cool that he ran over two girls in the parking lot, one of them holding a weird device straight out of a science fiction book.
Or more accurately, a TV show.
In the split second before the car hit, April realized what was happening and panicked. Her heart jumped and her mouth prepared to scream.
And then the car hit, hit her and Harriet, and she screamed in pain. She could hear Harriet screaming too, and Elaine calling their names. Through her blurry vision, she could see Jeremy Rice getting out of his car, rap music still blaring, as he ran over to where she and her friend lay on the ground.
And then everything went white.
Chapter 2: The Royal Hope Hospital
In the wake of the car accident, April and Harriet wake up in a hospital. Somehow, they've been transported to the middle of London - and is that Martha Jones they see?
April opened her eyes. Everything was blurry, a mix of white and blue and the sound of people talking to her left.
"Where –" April fell silent upon remembering that day's events. She had been hit by a car with Harriet and that idiot Jeremy Rice had stepped out and then she had blinked. It had hurt so much, and she had just wanted to…die. Am I dead? April thought. That would explain why everything's so white.
Alternative explanation – you're in a hospital.
Okay, that would explain all the whiteness and the comfy bed. April blinked again, but her eyes hurt. She felt like she had been turned inside out, smashed into pulp, and then molded into some semblance of herself, almost like she had travelled by Vortex Manipulator. Except that was stupid, because Doctor Who wasn't real.
"Hello," a woman in a doctor's coat said, sitting down next to her. Her face came into sharp focus. She had brown hair and a pale face, with lots of freckles. "Can you tell me what your name is?"
"Where am I?"
"American?" Asked the doctor.
April frowned. Of course, she was American. That was generally the default assumption if you lived in America and went to an American school and talked with an American accent.
April noticed that the doctor had a British accent. Was the accident that bad? April thought. Her head hurt, like something was attempting to break free. Did I need to be taken to some kind of super expert? In the UK? It didn't sound likely to her.
"Yes," April said. "Where am I?"
"You're at the Royal Hope Hospital," said the doctor, smiling down at her. "You and your friend were found lying on the street, unconscious."
"The…street?" April asked. "Where's my mom? Where's Harriet?"
"Yes, you were found on the street. The man who called 999 claimed that you just appeared out of nowhere. We've been attempting to find your medical records, but you don't seem to exist."
"Is Harriet okay?" April asked urgently. "She was…" April could see her screaming as the car hit her straight in the chest, her breathing labored. "Is she…"
"Your friend is fine," the doctor said, stepping aside. April could see a tall girl with black hair wearing a pink shirt in the bed near her, and she assumed it was Harriet.
"Good," April said. "Do you have my glasses?" The woman handed them to her, and April was able to see clearly again. Sure enough, Harriet was in the bed next to her.
"April!" Harriet said. "You're awake!" She tried to get up.
"Miss Taylor," said the doctor, "you shouldn't try to –"
"Don't worry," Harriet groaned, clutching her head. "Point taken. Massive headache."
April, however, was happy to feel the nausea leaving her. She sat up in bed. "You said found in the middle of the street." Something was very wrong here, but her head hurt too much for her to think properly.
"You mean in New York?"
"No," said the doctor carefully. "You were found in London and brought here, to the Royal Hope Hospital. We were unable to figure out what happened while you were unconscious, but now that you're awake we should be able to get this worked out. You'll be able to go home soon. Do you feel any pain in your head?"
"Yes," April said, wincing as the pain spiked again. "And I feel nauseous. But it's getting better." The doctor was recording this all in a notebook.
"And are you experiencing any amnesia?"
"Amnesia?" April asked. She thought back, remembering her day. "No, why? Should I be?"
"Of course not," she said swiftly. "But your case is unusual, we have to make sure."
"What's going on over there?" She turned to her left to see several people gathered around a bed. A woman was lying in the bed, talking.
"I was all right till this morning, and then, I don't know, I woke up and felt all dizzy again. It was worse than when I came in." Something about the words and the tone of voice felt familiar, but April brushed it aside.
"It's just some medical students," the doctor explained. "So, what would your name be?"
"April Storm," April said. "And really, I'm feeling fine now." That was when she realized what was wrong. She felt fine. Absolutely fine.
April looked down at her leg, remembering the feeling of it being run over, seeing the blood flowing out of it. She examined it, looking for a bandage, a scar, something…but there wasn't a scratch. "The accident," she began. "I'm okay. Why am I okay?"
"And that's what I'm wondering," Harriet said, holding her head in her hands. "Because I felt that car run over me. And it hurt. A lot. And then I woke up here and the doctors are saying I popped into existence in London of all places."
"Miss Taylor is saying that she believes she was in a car crash," the doctor said. "But there were no signs of injury upon admission to the hospital, nor any signs of drug use."
"There was a car crash," April maintained. "And we'd never do drugs."
"April," Harriet said, "this is really weird."
"Jones?" April heard a man say in the group of medical students.
"We could take bloods and check for Meniere's disease," said a young woman. April squinted at her.
"I think my glasses are broken," April said quietly.
"No," Harriet said, her voice faint. "I don't think they are."
"Martha Jones. That's freaking Martha Jones," Harriet said, her eyes wide with wonder.
"Excuse me," said the doctor, scribbling away in her book. "Do you know her?"
"No, yes, well…" April began.
"Please tell me this isn't happening," Harriet said.
"We're dead," April responded. "It isn't happening, it's just my neurons randomly firing or something, generating a vision of…um…Smith and Jones."
"Could you explain?" Asked the doctor.
"Well," April said slowly. "Yes. First, can I ask you what your name is? I'm calling you the doctor inside my head and that's really not helping with my panicking right now."
"Ms. Nice," said the doctor.
"You're Jeremy's mom!" Harriet said, recognizing her. "You came to our class each year in Elementary School as Mystery Reader."
"Excuse me? You must have me confused with someone else," she said slowly. "Me and my son have lived in England for 13 years. Now, could you tell me your phone number so I can call your parents?"
April gave her the phone number and watched as she left, followed by the medical students. Then she climbed out of her bed and sat by Harriet. "What. Just. Happened?"
"Nothing, according to you," Harriet said. "We're dead. I had hoped that Heaven would be a bit less painful. Unless we're in hell. Always hated hospitals. But you? April Storm? Hell?"
"Well, if you're the one who's dying," April said slowly, "I would just be your imagination. And I'm not saying we're in Heaven or whatever, I'm saying that our neurons are randomly firing in the seconds before we die or something. Except Harriet Taylor, the real Harriet Taylor, is having her own dream. But if you were real, the pain…is you integrating your sensations into your imaginary scenario or something."
"How do you know this stuff?" Harriet asked.
"I just sort of pick it up," April smiled. "Well, this I got from the Good Place."
"I wouldn't think you'd have seen that."
"Well…I didn't want to," April said. "My mom made me. Too much lovey stuff. Didn't like it." Harriet groaned in pain. "What if it's not," April said suddenly.
"What if we're not dying," April explained.
"We're not. We're dead. We're in Heaven or Hell or Purgatory. Or I guess our neurons could be firing randomly." Harriet rubbed her temples. "God, that's depressing."
"I mean, what if this is real. I mean, it's not, but just what if?" April said, looking at the door that Martha Jones had left through. "What if the Doctor's real?"
"It's impossible," Harriet laughed.
"Doctor who?" Asked Florence Finnegan, the straw lady. April giggled and then caught herself.
"TV show," she explained. "Nothing's impossible," she said to Harriet. "Improbable, sure. Probability of one out of, um, ten to the…" April struggled to think of a suitably high number to convey the level of improbability. "Googleplex power."
"Practically nonexistent," Harriet said. "I don't want to spend my last minutes doing math, thank you very much."
"Math is cool," April protested.
"That's an insult to bowties," Harriet responded.
"Just think. What happens if this is real?"
"Well, the Judoon move this place to the moon and the Plasmavore tries…oh." Harriet stopped. "But it's not."
"'Course it's not," April said, thinking of her family. They were probably standing over her hospital bed right now, watching as her heart monitor beeped slower and slower. It hurt, so she focused on other things. It was fairly easy when she had just seen Martha Jones suggest taking blood samples. "But honestly, my last few seconds alive? I want to spend them on an adventure." She grabbed the handrail of the hospital bed and, to her surprise, received a static shock. "Ouch."
"Was that –"
"Yes," April grinned. "Let's go."
"But what if it's real?" Harriet questioned as April headed for the door, past the bed with the Plasmavore.
"Shouldn't you be in bed?" A man asked as the two girls hurried down the hallway, looking for the Doctor.
"Yeah," Harriet said. "Does it matter?"
"She's a bit confused," April said quietly. "I'm leading her to the bathrooms."
"Hey," Harriet said as the man left. "It doesn't matter."
"Well, this place is pretty logical for a dream, and they could make us go back to bed," April said, looking out the window. The rain was pouring down, down, down…
"Harriet!" April said excitedly. "It's going up!"
"Have you seen the rain?" Asked a woman, walking past them.
"It's going up, yeah," Harriet said, staring out the window.
"Grab ahold of something, hallucination," April advised, holding on tight to the windowsill. Sure enough, the thunder rolled and lightening flashed, and the building began to tilt.
"I feel nauseous for a dream!" Harriet yelled, clutching onto the window. The woman in the hallway fell down, pulling herself back up only to topple over again. Finally, the rain stopped. "My stomach," Harriet groaned. "I feel like I just travelled via vortex manipulator."
"Same," April said.
The woman ran past them to the window. "It's nighttime!" She shrieked.
"We're on the moon," April corrected. "C'mon, let's get to that balcony."
The two girls wove their way through the hysterical, completely imaginary crowds until they reached the patients' lounge. They opened the door to step out. "Don't!" A man yelled. Harriet and April ignored him and stood out on the balcony, viewing the starry night sky.
"It's beautiful," Harriet said, her voice choked. "Fake, but beautiful."
"Yeah," April said, her eyes misting over as she stared at the giant globe hanging in the starry sky. "We're dying, Harriet."
"I know," Harriet said. "Permission to hug?"
"'course," April said, holding her friend close as they cried into each other's shoulders. "We had so many things we were gonna do."
"We never did get to see Season 12," Harriet said sadly.
"That's what you think of?" April laughed weakly.
"I never kissed Tony," Harriet tried.
"Seriously. There are so many more important things than kissing a stupid boy," April said. "I argued with my mom this morning. Not like that's any different than normal, but still." Her glasses were foggy, so she plucked them off her face and polished them instinctively with the cloth she kept in her pocket. "Wait a second," April said, suddenly feeling very nervous.
"What?" Harriet asked, oblivious to her realization.
"I can believe that my near-death hallucination is about Doctor Who. I can even believe that it's this realistic. But I can't believe that my vision is blurry when I don't wear my glasses." It was the most absurd of things to base her conclusion on, but somehow April was filled with a sense of certainty.
"So, you're saying…"
"I think it's real," April whispered, looking down at her glasses.
"Improbable. Remember that weird thing you picked up? Before we were hit?" April said, knowing her friend's heart was also sinking in her chest, sorrow replaced by pure dread. "What if…" She couldn't finish her sentence.
"What if it brought us here?" There was a long, heavy pause. "That's ridiculous, things don't actually work like that." Another pause.
"Alright then," April said. "How do we get back?"
"What if we died in our universe?" Harriet asked. "The accident…"
"No," April said, pushing her glasses up the bridge of her nose. "I'm not getting stuck here."
"But April," Harriet said. "This is great. We could travel with the Doctor."
"We could die!" April said as two people walked through the glass doors. "We could never see our family again! We've got to –"
"We've got air," Martha said, and they fell silent. "How does that work?"
"Just be glad it does," the Doctor replied as April and Harriet looked on in awe. This was real, really, really real. April was watching the Doctor and Martha Jones talk on the moon.
"I've got a party tonight," Martha said, staring off into literal space. "It's my brother's twenty-first. My mother's going to be really, really…"
"You okay?" The Doctor asked.
"Yeah," Martha answered.
"S—oh, hello!" The Doctor said, coming over to April and Harriet. "How'd you get out here."
Harriet stared at the Doctor, awestruck. "Um," April said, grasping for words. "Through the doors."
"Well obviously," said the Doctor, frowning. "Though I suppose you could've teleported in. But really, the question is…why?"
"That's…that's the Doctor," Harriet stammered.
"How'd you know my name?" The Doctor asked, pulling out his sonic and scanning them. "Human. Well?"
"I don't know," April said.
"You don't know how you know me?" He asked skeptically.
"Our dad's in UNIT," Harriet supplied faintly.
"Aren't you two supposed to be in bed?" Martha asked them curiously.
"You know who they are?" The Doctor asked. "Everyone knows who everyone is today."
"They're the two girls who just appeared in the middle of London," Martha said. "Everyone here knows who they are."
"Right," April said, standing up. "This is real, isn't it? Because I seriously doubt my ability to realistically model the Doctor in my head."
"I think so," Harriet told her.
"You said your dad's in UNIT?" The Doctor asked.
"Yeah," April responded confidently, fixing her glasses again. "Colonel Smith."
"Is he related to you, Mr. Smith?" Martha asked the Doctor.
"It's not Smith," said the Doctor. "That's not my real name."
"Oh, well, Doctor, right? Me too, if I can pass my exams. Well," said Martha, "is he related to you Doctor Smith?"
"Wait a second," April said.
"Can you give me a moment to talk with my friend?" Harriet asked. She pulled April aside. "Mr. Stoker—"
"I know," April said, thinking hard about the episode. "I think we're too late."
"But we can't just let someone die."
"Well do you have any better ideas?" April asked.
"Then he'd know something's off with us."
"Go with the UNIT cover story. You're a better liar than me," Harriet said.
"Alright, but if he finds out…"
"We could die," Harriet said quietly. "But there's a man somewhere getting his blood sucked out of him, and he's scared. And he's going to die."
"So many people die in Doctor Who," April said, beginning to smile. "We can help. We can make it better."
"One person at a time."
April nodded, walking over to the Doctor, who was discussing aliens and Adeola with Martha Jones. "Doctor. Martha Jones."
"Yes?" Said the Doctor. "What would your names be, by the way?"
"April. My…sister's Harriet," April said, stumbling over the word and hoping that the Doctor didn't detect their lack of genetic similarities. "Our dad told us…that there…was some creature at the hospital. You need to just go to Mr. Stoker's office and help him. Please," she said, knowing full well that she sounded absolutely ridiculous. Why would they listen to her?
"Why would your father put you in the hospital if he knew there was something dangerous there?" The Doctor asked. He scanned them again with the sonic.
"Please," April said again. "He's in danger, and you can help him."
"And you said they just popped into existence?" He asked Martha.
"No," Martha explained, "it's got to have been extraterrestrial, hasn't it? With everything that's been going on…and this. No coincidence."
"Well then!" The Doctor said, racing towards the door. "Someone's in trouble, let's go."
"Stay or come, your choice," he said to Harriet and April. "Martha Jones—lead the way!" He dashed out the doors, and the she followed.
"Come on," Harriet said to April urgently, pulling her along. They dashed through the hallways of the hospital as April saw spaceships passing overhead. The Doctor doesn't know about the Judoon! She thought. He'll have to figure it out some other way.
"Hey!" A man shouted. "Where're you goin'?"
"To find aliens," the Doctor said matter-of-factly, pushing past him.
"Don't have ta go lookin'," he said, pointing at the ceiling. "They're up there."
"Are they?" Asked the Doctor, running over to the window and pulling it open despite his protests.
"Aliens," Martha said faintly. "That's aliens."
"Real, proper aliens," April said as she looked over their shoulders. "We're wasting time," she muttered.
"Oh, the Judoon."
"The what?" Martha asked.
"Judoon. They're like police. Well, police for hire. They're more like interplanetary thugs." The Doctor turned around in shock upon hearing Harriet and April say his last two sentences along with him.
"And they brought us to the moon?" Martha asked, not having heard the two girls. Harriet and April looked at each other, worried.
"He heard us," Harriet whispered.
"Neutral territory," the Doctor said, ignoring them. "According to galactic law, they've got no jurisdiction over the Earth, and they isolated it. That rain, lightning? That was them, using an –"
"H2O scoop," Harriet muttered, and then clapped a hand over her mouth. The Doctor's eyes narrowed, and he slowly turned around. April found herself suddenly frightened of him. He's the Doctor, she told herself. You're not going to get hurt.
"How do you know that?" He asked Harriet quietly.
"Water," April supplied quickly. "They – they used water, and, and scooped us up. H2O scoop?"
"No, no, no," he said. "That's not the sort of connection…that you make. What are you? Why were you lying?"
"We're human!" Harriet squeaked. "I swear, we're human. Scan us with your sonic screwdriver." A second passed before she realized what she had said.
"And did your UNIT dad tell you about that?" He asked coldly.
"Mr. Smith," Martha said. "Mr. Smith, they're kids. They're not aliens. We've got to go help Mr. Stoker."
"This is important."
"Mr. Stoker is dying!" April shouted. "We can't waste time." The Doctor stared at her for a moment before tucking his sonic screwdriver away.
"Well then." He thought for a moment, then smiled. "Allons-y!" He yelled, running through the corridors. Harriet, Martha, and April ran after him…until they reached a triplet of Judoon.
"Oh, no," April said quietly. One of the Judoon pointed its scanner at the Doctor.
"That rhino thing talks?" Martha asked.
"Run!" The Doctor yelled, racing through the hospital as the Judoon fired its strange weapon. They ran up the stairs, April breathing hard. She couldn't believe that there was so much running.
"I…can't…" she said, halfway up.
"C'mon!" Harriet said, tugging on her hand.
"Go," April said. "'m human. Not in danger." She leaned against the wall, her breath labored. The lack of oxygen certainly wasn't helping, and even with her adrenaline she just couldn't keep going.
"I'm not—" Harriet said, and April cursed her friend's sentimental nature. Everyone was in danger, and it only took one of them to tell him what he needed to know. "Go." Harriet ran, chasing after Martha and the Doctor.
The Judoon caught up to her, pointing their scanners. April tried in vain to steady her breathing and decrease her oxygen usage, but her lungs were still burning and she felt faint. Her heart pounded in her chest as the Judoon pointed his scanner at her. It's okay, they're not going to hurt me, I'm human, I'm not in danger. And almost in slow-motion, she watched the strange rhino-mouth move.
Chapter 3: Smith and Jones
The Judoon are convinced that April's not human, the hospital is losing oxygen, and the heroes are running out of time. April must save the hospital, her friends, and the world, but at what cost?
The Judoon caught up to her, pointing their scanners. April tried in vain to steady her breathing and decrease her oxygen usage, but her lungs were still burning and she felt faint. Her heart pounded in her chest as the Judoon pointed his scanner at her. And almost in slow-motion, she watched the strange rhino-mouth move.
What? April thought. "I'm human!"
The Judoon raised its weapon. "Confirm. Plasmavore, charged with the crime of murdering the child princess of Patrival Regency Nine."
"No!" April tried to shout, but it came out as a whimper. "I'm human. Please."
"Verdict, guilty, Sentence, execution." What's going on? April wondered. She was human, definitely utterly human. Unless…was she somehow chameleon arched? No, that would still scan as human!
Focus on living, or you'll be a dead human.
April took a deep breath and slid down the stairs, past the Judoon and to the floor. Stumbling to her feet, she ran down past the Judoon, her lungs burning with exertion. "Need to…" she whispered, falling down. "Need to get up." April struggled back up, tears filling her eyes as she heard the Judoon shouting to find the non-human. She managed a few more feet and collapsed on the ground, crying as she suffocated to death.
April could see Elaine back at home, face pale as she ran over to April and Harriet bleeding out on the blacktop. She could see the car coming towards her, ready to kill. And she could imagine her parents crying as they heard she was gone, her little brothers sitting in their crumpled black suits as they sat by her empty grave. "No," April whispered to herself. "Get up off your arse and win."
The quote gave her enough strength to stagger to her feet. If this was a Doctor Who episode, April knew that there would be heroic music playing, but there wasn't any. Just the sounds of Judoon shouting and people panting in the oxygen-deficient air. Fighting her way towards the information desk, April grabbed a marker and drew an X on the back of her hand, her hands shaking. Then, all strength gone, she melted into the soft chair, hoping that she hadn't messed up the timeline too much.
A Judoon came over to her, and grabbed her hand. April closed her eyes, silently pleading with the ancient butterflies of the world to flap their wings at the right time and make the Judoon fall for the trick. The Judoon looked at her hand and then looked at her face, and then back at her hand. April couldn't breathe, but that didn't mean much because there wasn't any air left to breathe anyway.
"Suspect already catalogued," said the Judoon. And then he walked away, boots stomping on the hospital floor.
Now get up, April told herself.
Does it matter? There's nothing…I can…do. April gasped for air, a fish out of water.
What if I messed things up? I need to get to the MRI room! Arms burning, April dragged herself over to the elevator, pressing the buttons to bring her up to floor 3. She lay on the ground, exhausted, gaping, and ready to give up. Then, right as the elevator doors opened, she heard a scream and a crash. The Doctor's about to go in there, unless I messed it up. He'll save the Earth. April closed her eyes.
And then suddenly a thought occurred to her. The Doctor might not be there, and if he wasn't, it was her fault. But she could still put this right. She could still do her best to get the Plasmavore caught.
No, said the little voice in her head that was largely responsible for keeping her alive and disagreeing with her conscience when it put her in danger. No, no, no, you're not doing that!
Well, this isn't a question of "give your life to save someone," is it? It's "you're probably going to die, and it's your fault, so you might as well save everyone else's life while you're at it."
No death is a good death, April argued with herself.
If the Doctor doesn't get there, you're going to die, her brain told her bluntly. She didn't contradict it. So go. Save the people who can still live.
What did it matter? The Doctor would find a way to get out, a way to win. This wasn't April's job, it was his. You'll live longer if you stay, that selfish part of her brain said.
No, it matters. So many lives. And it's up to you to save them.
I don't want to.
Well, too bad. Go on. Save them. April thought of all the people who would die if she didn't do something.
It's not fair.
April nearly laughed at that. You sound like such a baby. People to save, April, people who are crying out for help. Do you want Harriet to die too? And that was enough. April dragged herself out of the elevator and, in a sudden burst of strength, heaved herself up once more and stumbled into the MRI room. Sure enough, Florence Finnigan, the Plasmavore, was waiting there, fiddling with the MRI. Two of the Slabs waited by the door.
The Doctor was nowhere to be seen.
"Have you seen those things?" April gasped. There was somehow more oxygen in here, but not much. "Those giant rhino things, with guns. We're on the moon. The moon! Aliens," she said. "Who'd have thought. Well," April desperately searched for meaningless chatter. She could barely get enough oxygen to stay awake, let alone talk. "Mr. Saxon's certainly got my vote now. I mean, he may be an evil maniac, at least according to those wacky conspiracy theories, but I think I'll vote for him now after seeing this. If I do get out of here…alive."
"Hold her," said the Plasmavore, and the two slabs grabbed April by the arms. Instinctively, she tried to break free, but one of them pulled her hair back.
"Stop!" She gasped. Her glasses fell on the floor, and the world went fuzzy, but she continued on. "So, that machine thingy. Is it supposed to be making that noise? Sounds like it's dying or something. But isn't that like a magnetic resonance imaging thing? I think my science teacher talked about it, but I was too busy talking to my friend, Elaine. Oh, I hope she's doing okay. Don't think I'm going to see her again, seeing as, well, the world's ending." April could see purple energy arcing around inside of the MRI.
"The magnetic setting now increased to fifty thousand Tesla." April gasped for air. Why wasn't the Doctor coming? She didn't want to do this, but she'd have to do something before the Judoon got there.
"That sounds pretty high, doesn't it?" April said, steeling herself for what was to come.
"Oh," said the Plasmavore, "it'll send out a magnetic pulse that'll fry the brain stems of every living thing within two hundred and fifty thousand miles. Except for me, safe in this room." April looked over at the door, silently praying to any god whatsoever to get the Doctor in here. "It's almost ready."
"Well, wouldn't that include the Earth?" April asked, feigning confusion. If the Slabs weren't holding her upright, she doubted she could have stood, even leaning against the wall. She closed her eyes, blinking the black spots away, but her chest just hurt even more.
"Only the side facing the moon. The other half will survive. Call it my little gift."
April struggled weakly against the Slab. "You're talking like you're some sort of alien."
"You're kidding me," April said. "What're you…doing…in the hospital?"
"It's the perfect hiding place," grinned Mrs. Finnegan. "Blood banks downstairs for a midnight feast, and all this equipment ready to arm myself with should the police come looking." April could hear the Judoon stomping around outside, and closed her eyes again. This was it. The Plasmavore had to be tricked, and she had to be the one. For some reason, the Judoon didn't think she was human. Because this isn't my reality. I'm not their type of human, at least according to their scanners.
"So, the weird space rhinos, they're looking for you?" April said, mimicking the Doctor's line as best as she could. Please show up, Doctor. I don't want to die. She was getting close to the point of no return.
"Yes. But I'm hidden."
"So, that's why they're increasing their scans."
"They're doing what?"
"The big leader one said that they were gonna increase their scans to level two or something. Can you believe him? Shoved me against a wall, scanned me, and put a big X on my hand. The nerve."
"Then I must assimilate again."
"Assimilate. Like, appear to not be an alien?"
"Precisely," she said, plugging in the MRI scanner. The Magnetic Overload sign turned on, and it began to beep.
"Well, I can give you my hoodie," April said. She was panting for breath, and she wasn't even moving. Tears began to leak out of her eyes, but she tried to blink them away. She'd nearly died in the car accident, and Harriet had been dying. What difference was this? I had some extra time. Saw space. From the moon. Met the Doctor.
I could've just died, but I didn't. I'm lucky.
"Why should I need a primitive piece of clothing? I've got my little straw. Steady her!" April could feel her heart pumping as one of the Slabs forced her to her knees and wrenched her head to the side.
"Please," April found herself saying. Shut up! She told herself. You chose this. But it was too much for her to expect herself to maintain her dignity as a blood-sucking alien advanced on her with a straw. "Please, please don't, I'm not, I'm, the Judoon…" April forced herself to clench her jaw shut as the Plasmavore stuck her straw into April's throat. A sharp, stabbing pain shot through her, and April clenched her teeth. I'm not going to scream, I'm not going to scream.
"I'm afraid this is going to hurt. But if it's any consolation—" The door burst open, and the Doctor, Harriet, and Martha ran in.
"No!" The Doctor yelled. "Get away from her!" He attempted to push the Plasmavore off, but the Slabs grabbed him and the other two girls. "No! What're you doing!"
The Plasmavore looked up from April's body. Her eyes were blurry, with her glasses lying on the floor, and her vision swum, black spots covering most of the scene. "I must assimilate!" She said.
"Then use me instead," said the Doctor, "for whatever your weird History term thing is."
April knew she couldn't stay conscious much longer. The Plasmavore looked at the Doctor curiously. "Very well then." She removed her straw and wiped it with some sort of cross. "Steady him!" She ordered.
"No!" Martha yelled, fighting the Slab that was holding her. Harriet held her back and then collapsed against the wall, unconscious.
"Doctor," April whispered, falling to the ground. She had to tell him about the MRI. "The…"
"Trust me," he said, as the Plasmavore stuck her straw into his neck.
"At least help April!" Martha yelled. "You don't need to hurt her. Just let me help her." April closed her eyes and the darkness dragged her into its depths. She was falling…falling into the void...
When she opened her eyes again and regained consciousness every cell in her body burned.
"Verdict, guilty," said a Judoon that must've entered the room while she'd been out.
"Slab, stop them!" The Plasmavore shrieked. April looked over at the MRI, going into overload. She had to stop it. She had to save Earth.
And so, she began to crawl towards it, inch by inch.
The Judoon fried one of the Slabs, but the other one knocked the Judoon out. April reached the cables that the Plasmavore had plugged in. She saw the Doctor lying on the ground, white from blood loss. Martha was now free, lying on the floor. And Harriet was coming to. April saw Harriet look at the unconscious Judoon. Harriet stumbled towards the door.
"Non-human located!" April heard her scream outside the room. "Non-human in here!" Energy began to crackle around the MRI as it prepared to destroy them.
"Hold her!" The Plasmavore screamed, watching as the remaining Slab grabbed Harriet and forced her away from the door. April wrenched apart the cables that she had seen the Doctor separate in the show. "No!" Shrieked the Plasmavore. "No, no, no! Stop her!" The Plasmavore let go of Harriet and grabbed April again, who struggled to remain conscious as she tried her best to find wires to pull away from the machine and prevent it from restarting. Martha crawled over to the Doctor, beginning CPR. "No! Get the doctor-girl!"
The Slab released April to grab Martha, just as three more Judoon entered the room. April could only watch as the Judoon scanned the Plasmavore.
April saw the Plasmavore scream in pain as she was executed, Harriet fall to the ground, and Martha give her last breath to revive the Doctor. And then she couldn't hold on any longer, and everything went black.
Chapter 4: Explanations
Full of unanswered questions, April and Harriet must convince the Doctor of the truth and recover from the aftermath of their first adventure.
The Slab released April to grab Martha, just as the Judoon entered the room. April could only watch as the Judoon scanned the Plasmavore, fried the Slab, and sentenced her to execution. She saw the Plasmavore scream in pain, Harriet fall to the ground, and Martha give her last breath to revive the Doctor. And then she couldn't hold on any longer, and everything went black.
When April regained consciousness, she could feel the hard, cold ground beneath her. She blinked, still dizzy. I'm alive, she thought. How am I alive? April blinked again and saw the Doctor helping Martha up and Harriet stirring on the ground.
"You should go with them," the Doctor told Martha. "Tell your family that you're okay."
"Will Harriet and April be okay? That…creature…"
"That Plasmavore was sucking April's blood. How much did she take?"
"Not much. We got there in time. It's a bit like donating blood—"
"To an evil alien who killed another alien. Mr. Saxon's right," Martha said. "There's so much out there. We aren't alone. Or safe."
"Earth will be safe," said the Doctor, "as long as I am here to protect it." Martha's phone rang, and she left the room. Outside in the hallway, April could see people moving about, helping people up or onto stretchers.
"April!" Harriet said. April crawled over to her, picking up her glasses on the way and shoving them on her face.
"Harriet! Are you…?"
"I'm fine. Thought you were gonna die there."
"I…" April couldn't say it. She had also thought she was going to die. Reaching up to touch her face, April realized that it was covered in tear tracts.
"Right," said the Doctor, sitting down next to them. "The Smiths."
"Did you destroy her machine?" April asked him. "She was…was going to destroy Earth. Or half of it at least."
"You stopped it," the Doctor said, "you got lucky when you pulled apart the cables. And I made sure that it wouldn't be fit to function ever again," he said. "Is your neck still bleeding?" April lightly touched her wound from the Plasmavore's straw. Her hand came away with bits of dried blood on it, but no liquid. Yuck. I'm definitely going to need a shower. She shook her head.
"Will there be any side effects from oxygen deprivation?" Harriet asked.
"Nope," the Doctor said cheerfully. Then his expression turned serious. "You've been lying to me."
"We were confused," Harriet defended. "We can tell you the truth."
"Are you—" April began.
"Look," Harriet said. "We just tell him what we know. And then he takes us home, and that's it."
"He won't believe us."
"I'll believe the truth," the Doctor interrupted, "if you tell it to me. I can help." Again, April remembered how she was way out of her depth. She would never have believed that she'd be fighting space rhino police on the moon with The Doctor and Martha Jones.
"We live—lived in what we think was another universe," April said slowly. "We were hit by a car on our way home from school and then we woke up here. But when we were leaving school, we found this strange device. Harriet picked it up, and we think it might have been what got us here, even if that doesn't make much sense. It didn't trigger or anything. In our universe there was this…TV show. Really popular in the UK, but not in America. Me and my friends loved it. It was called Doctor Who, and it was about a man named the Doctor who travelled time and space with a spaceship called the TARDIS."
"No. You're wrong," the Doctor said confidently.
"I know it's true," April said. "If I were going to lie, wouldn't I think of something this…dumb. And I'm not mistaken, because I remember it really clearly. I've been watching it since forever, with my mom." She giggled in spite of herself. "This is an episode. Smith and Jones."
"And you're saying that you watched these episodes…watched my life…for fun?"
"Well, yes." Harriet said. "Like a family show."
"A family show?" The Doctor said incredulously. "You think my life is a family show?"
"No," April said carefully, "we think it's that in our universe. Here, it's real. And we want you to help us get back home."
"You think this is fake."
"No," April repeated. "Here, it's real."
The Doctor paused for a few moments. "Tell me about the TV show."
"What if that causes a paradox or something?" Harriet asked.
"I mean little things," he said, frustrated. "Who plays me? How much do you know?"
"You're played by David Tennant," Harriet said. "Well this incarnation anyway."
"Well, it showed your first seven incarnations, then there was a gap, then a bit of your eighth…it skipped the Time War but showed tiny segments of it much later. Then nine, and ten, and –"
"Don't," the Doctor interrupted her. "Knowledge of the future is highly dangerous…" He frowned running his hand through his hair. "You shouldn't know this much! You don't make any sense!"
"I get that a lot," April muttered. Harriet smiled slightly.
"You haven't ever seen into anyone's timeline, have you?" The Doctor asked.
"No," Harriet said. April shook her head.
"We're just from another universe," April explained.
"No, because that should be impossible. The sheer amount of energy it would require…all gaps were sealed between this universe and others."
"No…if not time sensitive…"
"We're from another universe," Harriet said.
"No…" the Doctor shook his head and began pacing around the room. "Because universes are separated by the void, and if you travel through them, you get void particles on you." His voice was bitter, and it took April a moment to realize how recently he'd lost Rose Tyler. "And you don't have any void particles on you."
"That's impossible!" Harriet said, astounded.
"Which is why you're wrong. You've always lived here. And somehow you've been seeing into my timeline."
"I can remember my life," April said. "And quite a lot of it involved that show.
"There are ways to manufacture memories."
"Not like this!" April protested. "It's one thing to program in a geographic location and names," she said, thinking of John Smith's inability to remember his childhood, "but you can't do everything. I have two little brothers, David and Luke. David loves to make his hair stick up because then Luke would laugh, even when he was just a baby. And Luke was always my best friend when I was little, until my mom decided that she was going to stop working from home and couldn't homeschool us. Then he made all these friends and I was so jealous because no one wanted to talk to me, not even him. No one, Doctor, can fake that."
"And none of that's from 'Doctor Who'," he pointed out. "Although it does…appear to rule out all of your memories being false." He sat down, thinking. "And where'd they even get a name like that?" He shook his head. "Doctor Who."
"Fine! When I was first introduced to Doctor Who," Harriet said, "I was ten years old. Everywhere I went, I kept hearing things about Doctor Who. At school, at my mom's job. Freaking Jeremy Rice's mom read us a book about it as the mystery reader, and he wouldn't be caught dead watching something geeky. But I was constantly hearing about Doctor Who and wanted to know what everyone else was talking about. I begged my parents to watch them after my friend Elaine told me all about it, and finally they said 'yes'. Except we searched everywhere and we couldn't find the episodes. And it was summer break and Elaine was on vacation. I was so excited when my new friend April came over to my house and casually mentioned that she was watching a show called 'Doctor Who'. So, she brought me over to her house the next day and we watched when you met Rose, and before long we were both laughing really hard at the burping dustbin and plastic Mickey. And we were friends. There you go, Doctor. Highly emotional, highly specific, and highly connected with the show. It can't be fictional."
"But it is," he said. His eyes seemed to scan the two of them. "There's an easy way to tell if you're from this universe or not. But I don't know if I can trust you."
"We helped you in the—"
"Your goals aligned with mine," he corrected April. "How old are you?"
"Eighteen," Harriet said. "April's seventeen."
"Not nearly old enough to be Time Agents…but you could be older than you look." He paused, thinking for a while. "If what you're saying is true, you don't have anywhere to go." The two girls nodded. "I suppose you know about the TARDIS?" They nodded again. "Come with me. I know some people who could help figure out what's going on with you, and you're not safe to the universe here, trustworthy or not."
"We're not going to get attacked by aliens?" Harriet asked. "Because that seems to happen a lot to your companions."
"You're not companions," the Doctor corrected. "I don't do that anymore." His expression became distant for a moment. "Well? Come on." Harriet pushed herself up using the wall and helped April to her feet.
The two girls stumbled towards the elevator. "What were you thinking?" Harriet whispered to April. "Going into the room with the Plasmavore."
"The Doctor was late," April whispered back as they stood in the elevator.
"Was I?" The Doctor asked, and April cursed super Time Lord hearing. "If I had gotten there a minute later," he said, "you would have been dead. There wasn't any time for the Slabs to capture you…you must've found the MRI room and gone in."
"Exactly," Harriet said. "And she wouldn't have decided to assimilate unless…"
April took a deep breath. "When the Judoon entered the room, there was only supposed to be one Slab. Remember?" She said to Harriet.
"Supposed to?" The Doctor frowned. "Did you see a likely timeline and latch onto it?"
"Um…well, it's what happened in the show. You and Martha stopped one of the Slabs. And then," April continued, as the elevator reached the ground floor. "Remember how the Judoon stopped one of the Slabs?"
"That's not an explanation," the Doctor said. "I need to know everything you can tell me—not about the future," he said hastily. "The past. So, if you really are innocent in this, I can help you." His expression darkened. "It wouldn't be the first time people've claimed to know my future and lied."
"You know that I'm human, right?" April said.
"Unless someone's been messing with my sonic screwdriver."
"Oh right!" Harriet said. "It hasn't been destroyed, has it?"
"It's indestructible!" The Doctor protested.
"That's tempting fate," Harriet said.
"No such thing. And back on topic…yes, the sonic said you were human. With traces of non-typical human…you didn't. That would be stupid, of course you didn't."
"You would do it. Did do it."
"I'm a Time Lord!" He protested. "I stood a chance of surviving. And you've got human DNA, it wouldn't have worked."
"Yeah," Harriet said. "What were you thinking?"
"The Judoon scanners thought I was non-human. Because I'm from another universe."
The Doctor ran his hand through his hair yet again. "No, no, no, no, no. Not another universe. You don't have the void particles, it's mathematically impossible."
"You say that a lot, and it turns out to not be," April pointed out.
"But…oh. Of course. You thought… That wouldn't have worked, though."
"Why not?" Harriet asked. "If the scanners thought she wasn't human…"
"Parallel worlds," the Doctor explained, "and Alternate Universes, can be very different from one another. For a moment, imagine I believe that you did come from another universe. It would have to have split off a long, long time ago for human development to have been sufficiently different here that your DNA does not fall within the realm of normal human variation."
"Huh?" Harriet said.
"Humans evolve slowly. Your DNA wouldn't be different enough."
"Then how come the scanner thought I was non-human?" April asked.
"The faster a species reproduces, the faster the individual generations are cleared away for the next, allowed to pass on their genes, the faster a species' genes mutate, evolve. Humans have too long of a lifespan to have changed much over the years. But what does evolve fast enough? Go on," he said, as if he was a teacher encouraging his pupil.
"Rabbits?" Harriet asked.
April laughed, for a moment. It felt good. "Sorry," she apologized, sheepishly.
"No, faster. Something that you carry around with you, that the Judoon would pick up on."
"Bacteria!" April said triumphantly. "But they'd know that's different, right?"
"Animals are full of bacteria, in our stomach, on our skin, everywhere." That was one of the things that while April knew in theory, she really preferred not to think about. "You practically are a collection of bacteria, soaked in water with some carbon. Plus, a small percentage of protein and amino acids and other biological material."
"So, it wouldn't have worked," April said slowly. "I would've given my life for nothing."
"Yes. But you didn't know. Senseless sacrifice…" They walked in silence for a little while before the Doctor darted off into another room.
"What's he doing?" Harriet asked, leaning against the wall. April shrugged.
"I think that's the 'little shop'." A minute later, the Doctor exited with a banana and two small bottles of orange juice.
"They had a little shop!" He gushed. "I love a little shop!" The Doctor handed the orange juices to the two girls. "For the blood loss," he explained. "Otherwise you'll feel lightheaded and dizzy."
By the time they made it to the TARDIS, April was utterly exhausted. Outside, there wasn't anything to lean on, and all her running from earlier was catching up with her. "Prepare to be amazed," he said, unlocking the doors to the police box. April couldn't help but stare at it in wonder. This was the TARDIS, a transdimentional entity capable of time travel, space travel, maintaining paradoxes, and practically anything it wanted.
"We know what it looks like," Harriet pointed out. And then he opened the door.
Doctor Who made the TARDIS look amazing, but this was beyond amazing. The walls glowed with a soft orange light, the hexagons covering the room emitting faint, humming vibrations. The golden-brown coral struts glittered as they stretched up towards the ceiling, supporting the room and framing the central platform. Beneath the grating, April could see wires and shimmering lights, blinking and flashing as the ship came to life. The console gave off a bright blue light, both soothing and electric at the same time. The Time Rotor shone too, mystical and full of the feel of magic, stretching up to the ceiling as a grand centerpiece. Cables hung, draped across the coral struts and all connected to the top of the Time Rotor, providing power and energy.
April was speechless. This was the TARDIS, the real, true TARDIS. And she was in it. "So," the Doctor said, spinning around. "What do you think?" Even to the not-companions whom he didn't entirely trust, he couldn't resist showing off.
"It's beautiful," Harriet said in wonder.
"Yeah," April agreed faintly. The Doctor ran up to the console.
"Don't touch anything—well, grab ahold of one of the coral struts, don't touch the console. Controls are isomorphic."
"No, they aren't," April said.
"'course not," he frowned. "Why would they be isomorphic?"
"It was a test. Figure out how much you know."
"You said you knew some people who could tell you about us," April said. "Who are they?"
"Have you ever heard of the Logopolitans?" The Doctor asked.
"Yes," Harriet said, "but they don't exist anymore."
"Were those the ones from Logopolis?" April asked Harriet. "The math ones who were disintegrated?" Harriet nodded.
"Logopolis was destroyed in the year 1981," the Doctor said sadly. "It was partially my fault. If I…"
"It wasn't your fault," Harriet said quickly. April stayed quiet—he was right, if he had killed the Master or even let him die the many times he'd had a chance, then a third of the universe wouldn't have been destroyed.
The Doctor paused for a moment, then his mood quickly turned back to cheerful, although this time, it was much more obviously a mask. "The fantastic thing about time travel is that just because you know they died, that doesn't mean that they can't still be alive whenever you want! Logopolis, 1954 CE."
"Aren't you going to pick up Martha Jones?" Harriet asked. "I mean, aren't you going to offer her a trip?" April froze. If their presence meant that the Doctor never took on Martha Jones as a companion, brave brilliant Martha Jones, then the world could end up destroyed by the Family of Blood or ruled by The Master.
"Possibly," the Doctor said thoughtfully. "She did save my life. Once I figure you two out." April was disappointed that she'd never meet Martha Jones, but at least he was trying to get them home. Or would be, when he found that they were telling the truth.
The Doctor pressed a few buttons and flipped some switches, programming in the space-time coordinates. "Ready?"
"Ready," Harriet said.
"Ready," April echoed.
The Doctor grinned. "Hold on tight!" He pulled a lever as the TARDIS began to shake. April shrieked, clutching one of the coral struts. Harriet fell down, thrown against the console. "The blue button!" He yelled.
"What about the blue button?" Harriet screamed back, falling into a green lever covered in what appeared to be pink duct tape.
"No, no, no, no!" The Doctor leaped across the room, turning the lever back to its previous setting and fiddling with a dial. "April! Blue button! Press it!" April struggled over to the console, but she fell flat on the grating as the ship shook again. She could feel the metal pressing itself into her hands and gritted her teeth in pain. Pulling herself up, she searched for a blue button, finding a large one sticking out from the console. "No!" The Doctor yelled.
"Me?" April said, fighting against gravity as the TARDIS pitched backwards.
"Not that button!"
"The other blue button!" Harriet slammed her fist on the nearest blue button, a tiny one. The Doctor grabbed the mallet from one of his transdimensional pockets and whacked the console. Sparks showered him and April in the face. Quickly, April shielded her eyes, but strangely enough they didn't hurt.
Then there was the sound of the TARDIS materializing, a wheezing groaning sound, the most beautiful sound in the universe. The TARDIS stopped rocking, and the three collapsed against the console, laughing and thoroughly relieved. A moment later, the Doctor recovered. "Outside these doors," he said, smiling again, "is Logopolis."
Chapter 5: Logopolis
Finally, the protagonists are about to get some answers, but they may not like what they hear.
Then there was the sound of the TARDIS materializing, a wheezing groaning sound, the most beautiful sound in the universe. The TARDIS stopped rocking, and the three collapsed against the console, laughing and thoroughly relieved. A moment later, the Doctor recovered. "Outside these doors," he said, smiling again, "is Logopolis."
"We're going to another planet," Harriet said. "I can't believe it. We're gonna see aliens."
"Yeah," April said, trying to smile. Her mind was stuck thinking about everything that had happened during the show. It was all real. Here, a third of the universe had been destroyed. Whole galaxies and species had been lost in the Time War. And if things didn't go properly, the remaining two thirds of the universe could be gone by the end of the year.
The Doctor opened the TARDIS doors and stepped out onto the dusty surface of a whole new planet. Behind him came Harriet and April, staring at the new world in awe. It looked incredibly similar to Earth, but it was clearly different. Just as the Doctor had been able to tell in Dinosaurs on a Spaceship that the beach was not located on Earth purely by smell, the two girls were utterly certain that this could not be Earth they had lived their entire lives on at all.
The air felt slightly too thick and the gravity was a little bit wrong, pulling them down and making them feel as if they were carrying an extra twenty pounds of weight. The world smelled like dust and sand with a little too much salt in the air, and the oxygen levels were slightly higher than Earth normal. "This is so weird," April said, smiling.
"They'd think Earth was the weird planet," the Doctor said, affronted. "Now, follow me, and not a word about the future."
"We're not stupid," April was offended.
"You two seem very anxious to tell me about my future."
"Well," April reasoned, trying to rationalize telling the Doctor how to prevent all the deaths that would come, "you already know what happened. You come from their future, you can't give them spoilers. But we're from a different dimension, we can give you information about people's pasts and hypothetical situations, because they haven't actually happened. Like," she said, suddenly remembering the perfect example. "You told Pete Tyler to keep an eye on Harriet Jones, right? Information from another dimension, not future knowledge. And you can change their future so that she doesn't blow up anyone."
The Doctor frowned. "Universe," he corrected. "Parallel Universe. And you're not from one, because it's impossible. No void particles, and all the other universes were recently cut off. Not even a signal could get through. More likely you're a genetic experiment, some new type of time-sensitive, or lying to me."
"We're not lying to you!" Harriet protested. "We want to stop people from dying."
"And you're not the expert at this. I spent centuries learning the rules of time at the Academy, and I will tell you what's safe to say. Whoever you are, you are my responsibility, and I will not have you endangering this universe," the Doctor said coldly. April resisted the urge to shrink away, curl in on herself. This is just the Doctor, she reminded herself. The Doctor's the hero, he'll figure out that you're from another universe and send you back.
But what if he can't, a small voice piped up. What if the walls of the universe were sealed just after you entered and I can't return? Just my luck, stuck in a parallel universe just as my own is blocked off forever. April's thoughts raced. What if that voice was right? What if it was too late and she was stuck here?
"April!" Harriet called. "You coming?"
"Yeah," April said, straightening her glasses as she caught up with her friend and the Doctor. "Please tell me we're not going to do much running."
"There's always running!" The Doctor said. "But it should be at a minimum. Just a quick check on where you're from and then we're off!"
"To be fair," Harriet said. "Last time you came here to just do a quick fix on the Chameleon Circuit."
"That wasn't the most recent time. And anyway, the cloister bells were ringing," said the Doctor. "I knew something was wrong."
"You're not trying to run from anything now, are you?" April asked nervously.
"I'm always running from something," the Doctor said. "But nothing in particular right now." April looked out at the light brown landscape, hills and miniature cliffs along with barren plains.
"What do they eat here?" April asked curiously. "Doesn't seem to be much in the way of plants and stuff."
"Lithium," he answered. "Not every species requires sucrose for sustenance."
"Seriously?" Harriet said. The Doctor nodded. They were approaching the giant spiral of houses, each building fitted with alcoves for the Logopolitans to sit with their abacuses. As they entered the spiral, a group of Logopolitans came out to greet them. All of them looked identical to her, although for all she knew they thought humans all looked identical. They had large white hair with a goatee, and they wore orange robes with a black garment as a sort-of jacket.
"My dear Doctor," said the leader, stepping forwards. "Logopolis is honored by your visit."
"You've come here in this incarnation before?" April asked, unable to help herself. The Doctor seemed pleased that she hadn't known this, and she hoped that it would help convince him of the truth. He nodded.
"The honor is ours," he said.
"Welcome. Time has changed little for me, Doctor. We persist in our simple existence here. But you have travelling companions, now, roaming the Universe with you."
"How long do Logopolis people live for?" April asked, still full of questions.
"Logopolitans, and up to three centuries," the Doctor said, keeping his attention on the leader.
"This is the Monitor?" Harriet asked. No one answered her question.
"Please don't mention this visit when I return," the Doctor said.
"Of course, of course," said the Monitor. "And what brings you here, Doctor?"
"This is April and Harriet, and they're claiming to be from another universe. I came to ask your help in determining their origin."
"It would be a pleasure to aid in your research. Do you have their dimensions?" The Doctor handed over his sonic screwdriver.
"Is that enough? It feels…somewhat rude to take out a measuring tape and start measuring their 14th dimensional presence." Harriet giggled, and April continued to look around as the many Logopolitans huddled in the alcoves.
"Those dimensions are sufficient," the Monitor said formally, leading them through the passage and into a building at the center of the spiral. They entered a large room, but instead of the replica of the Pharos Project that was there during the TV episodes, the walls and floor were covered what looked like a blackboard except beige. It was covered in orange symbols and mathematical equations far beyond April's comprehension.
"Why don't they have computers?" April asked. She was certain that there was an in-story reason but couldn't quite remember it.
"Block transfer computation is a complex discipline, way beyond the capabilities of simple machines. It requires all the subtleties of the living mind. Is that not so, Doctor?" The Monitor said, taking a seat by a small table. There were a few other seats in the room, all brown and made of some strange kind of soft stone. April and Harriet took a them, thoroughly exhausted.
April wondered why the Doctor had brought them straight here, instead of letting them rest first. Either he didn't recognize how tired they were and how abnormal their whole ordeal was, or he thought that they were dangerous. And April was more inclined to believe the second one, however wrong it was.
The Monitor sat down, a strange black pencil in his hand, and closed his eyes. Then he began to chant, and outside, April could hear the faint echo of his words—no, numbers—amongst the people of Logopolis. "Keree per denesta octa der octa zarel gorok gorok per septel denesta der keree gorok gorok zel octa noner keree keree septel octa zarel gorok per pentre octa der septel septel pentre gorok per gorok zel per octa noner zel…"
Tired as she was, April couldn't help but think about what he was saying. Either 'zarel' or 'zel' had to be zero. 'Octa', 'noner', 'septl', and 'pentre' were likely 8, 9, 7, and 5. But she wasn't sure what gorok, der, per, denesta, and keree were. "What do those numbers mean, Doctor?" She asked. He motioned for her to be quiet, so she continued to watch the monitor, trying not to fall asleep.
A few minutes later, his eyes snapped open and he stood up, handing the sheet of paper to the Doctor. "I would appreciate if you could use your TARDIS to complete the calculations," he said. "My people have other matters to attend to."
"Thank you," the Doctor said. "Come on, you two. Back to the TARDIS." They left the room, walking back through the dusty streets wordlessly until they reached the blue police telephone box. "I just need to plug this into her calculation matrix," he said, motioning for them to enter the ship first. They did, again staring in wonder at it.
"The TARDIS can do Block Transfer Calculations?" Harriet asked as the Doctor spun the screen around to face him. He nodded, plugging the numbers in. Then he stood back, watching as the screen turned blue.
"How much should we tell him about Yana?" April muttered to Harriet, making sure to stay well out of earshot.
"Everything," Harriet said.
"But what if he dies in the year 100 trillion?" April asked. "Stays behind and dies."
"That's good," Harriet responded. "Obviously."
"No, but without Missy he wouldn't meet Clara," April argued. "Shouldn't we try to stick as close to cannon as possible?"
"Easy to say if you're not Danny Pink. Or Martha or Jack. Or anyone he's hurt." Harriet said.
"I just don't want to mess everything up," April said. "What if, in trying to help, we just make it worse?" She knew, though, that she should tell him. But she didn't want to make that decision without considering its consequences in length.
"Got it!" The Doctor said triumphantly. April and Harriet walked over to see the results on the screen. For some odd reason, April felt nervous. Why? She wondered. I know what he's going to see. The Doctor spun around the console with the screen, looking at it intently. A few seconds later, he looked over at them.
"Well?" Harriet said. "Believe us now?"
"You don't know," he said, running his hands through his hair. "You really don't…"
"What?" April asked slowly, terror dawning within her. What if she was wrong and her memories weren't real, what if everything she believed was just a well-constructed lie, what if…
"You're native," the Doctor said. "Never traveled between universes, and your matter belongs in this one."
"That's impossible," Harriet said, crossing her arms. April stared at the screen in shock. "Just…no way. I remember my life."
"You do," he agreed. "Everything seems to point towards your memories being real…filled with emotions, small quirky little stories…and they're even connected with the show. Real, human lives. So very human. You've got a fully fleshed out backstory, it's just…fake."
"My past isn't fake!" April yelled, backing away towards the door.
"I'm so, so sorry," the Doctor said, "but it is, you've always lived here. And there's no such thing as Doctor Who."
"You're saying we remember a show that never existed," Harriet said passionately. "It was a giant part of all of our lives. I watched it with my friends, laughed at it, cried with it. You can't explain how I know all this stuff…and it turned out to be true. I'm not from this universe. Your math was wrong."
"It's real!" April said. "Don't tell me it isn't."
"So, you want me to lie?" The Doctor asked, frustrated. "You're from here, and I don't know how you got those memories, but I'll do my best to figure it out."
"I won't become just another stupid mystery for you to solve," April shouted, well-aware that she was crying again. She backed towards the door, wanting to open it and run across the dusty landscape. Wanting to demand that the Monitor do his calculations again, get it right. Wanting to just escape from this nightmare, because the Doctor was wrong! This had to be the fake one, the one that wasn't real!
She collapsed against the door, tears trickling down her face, and Harriet ran over to her. The Doctor stayed where he was, watching from afar. "April," Harriet said. "April, listen to me, we'll figure this out."
"I know," she said, wiping her face. "Urg, I'm just a stupid cry-baby. Why am I even crying? This is supposed to be great!"
"Whichever is right…our memories or the Doctor—" Harriet began, trying to cheer her up.
"Don't say that!" April said. "It's different for you. No siblings, parents never around. I love my family. And now I'm being told they're a figment of my imagination. Fake. Non-existent. They're real, Harriet, I can remember them, and they're so very real."
"And they could be," the Doctor said, coming over to stand by them. "Just because you're from here and the show is fake doesn't mean that your family doesn't exist."
"Will you find them?" April asked, suddenly embarrassed. She was on the freaking TARDIS, and she was crying.
"I'll do my best," the Doctor said. "But first, you look tired. Both of you."
Chapter 6: Martha Jones
Picking up Martha, April begins to prepare for her and Harriet's first adventure in the TARDIS.
When woke up, it took April a moment to remember where she was. In the Doctor's TARDIS, in another universe (no matter what the Doctor said, she knew her memories had to be real), and who knows how far from home. She closed her eyes for a moment, wishing that this was all just a dream, and then opened them again. Nope, still not dreaming. Slowly, April got up, looking around the room. It was the same color as the walls in the console room, with a soft blue floor and a blue lamp by the fluffy blue bed.
April made her way to the console room, where she found the Doctor and Harriet chewing on bananas. Harriet was wearing a bright green shirt with jeans and had tied her two braids with green hairbands. On her hand, she wore a watch, although now that they were time travelers, she didn't see the point in it. "Bananas are good," the Doctor explained, and both girls giggled.
"I'm sorry for yelling yesterday," April said, just to make sure that the Doctor wasn't angry at her.
The Doctor looked confused for a moment. "Doesn't matter. So," he said, getting up from the beige chair where he had been sitting. "I already talked with Harriet about this, but she said that she was waiting to talk with you. Whatever's going on with you, it won't be easily found out. I looked on Earth for descriptions of your family, but I couldn't find anything. Now," he said, before April could contradict him, "that doesn't mean that they're not real. They could have easily been purged from the records, if whoever did this to you is smart enough, and they probably are."
"No one changed my memories," April said, frustrated. "I know what I remember. Doctor Who was a giant part of my life."
"It would be possible to take a similar sci-fi show and replace it with Doctor Who," the Doctor said. April paused. That would explain how I have all these memories associated with it and came from this—
No, she told herself. Stop it. He's wrong, this is all real. "What about the bacteria?" She asked herself. "We're not from here, or else we'd have the right microorganisms inside us. And really, Judoon scanners would have to be pretty weird to mistake me for those things, so they've got to be really different, right?"
"I don't know," the Doctor said, pacing around the TARDIS console.
"You could analyze them?" Harriet suggested.
"Wait—if we've got the wrong bacteria, how do you know we won't get sick here?" April asked.
"Oh, you'll be fine," the Doctor said, waving his hand. "TARDIS'll take care of that. She normally does, except in the case of certain engineered viruses, or when she's broken, or the few times when she just doesn't."
That didn't sound too reassuring. "But bacteria samples, right?" April said.
"Right. Yes. Readings. Should take the TARDIS about thirty-six hours to analyze them; I already started after Logopolis. Whatever's going on," he said, "we will find the answer. I promise. In the meantime, you have to be protected. However you found out about my timeline, people would kill for that knowledge."
"He's right," Harriet said.
"Yeah, I know," April said, thinking. She didn't know how anyone could possibly find out about their memories of Doctor Who, but if they did, any number of aliens could want to capture them to defeat the Doctor. "So, you're going to say we have to go with you."
"No," the Doctor said quietly. "I wouldn't force anyone to come with me. Not unless it was absolutely necessary," he amended. "You will be safest if you come with me, but I can't promise you that you won't get hurt. I have to help people, and the TARDIS always seems to land where there's trouble. But you really will be safer here." He paused for a moment. "If you want, though, I can drop you off with UNIT. However, it's a government organization, and therefore…"
"Leaks like a colander," April finished. So, what do I do? April wondered. Travel with the alien that goes looking for trouble, or stay at a government agency where sooner or later I'll be taken captive by evil aliens who want me to betray the universe? It wasn't even a choice. And anyway, April didn't think she would ever forgive herself if she gave up this opportunity. "Harriet?"
"I think we should go with him," Harriet said. "Take this chance. And he figures stuff out on his adventures. He can help us. But I won't go without you." She paused, staring at the glowing time rotor. "You're my only friend left."
April took a deep breath. "I'll come."
"I can't promise you'll be safe," the Doctor warned.
"You said we'd be safer with you," Harriet said.
"You will," he promised. "Well, then. Where too? Oh, and rules. Rule number one, don't wander off. Period. With normal companions, I'd relax it a bit, but I can't risk losing sight of you two. For your own good." April had always hated that phrase. 'For your own good' was always used to justify doing something wrong. "Two, and this is almost as important: no telling the future. Or the past. Your knowledge is not to be used at all, even when you think you could make things better."
"But people are going to die!" Harriet protested, crossing her arms.
"Yes," the Doctor said. "Do you think I don't know that? But you don't know what you're doing, and your knowledge is from our universe. It's. Not. Safe." He said forcefully. "Do you understand?" April nodded nervously. What if she slipped up?
"I understand it's dangerous," Harriet said slowly, "but if we don't do something, then people will get hurt."
"Their blood will be on our hands," April said quietly, wanting to support her friend, but scared that the Doctor was going to explode. He's just the Doctor, she reminded herself.
The Oncoming Storm, said that tiny, annoying voice.
"I know!" The Doctor yelled. He braced himself against the console, looking down at the shining blue light and taking a deep breath. "You're human," he said derisively. "You wouldn't understand. I am a Time Lord from Gallifrey. I am nine hundred and two years old, and I can see Time swirling around us, weaving itself into impossible paradoxes. I can see it winding its way around you two, timelines tying themselves around yours. If you make a mistake, the universe will suffer. So, I need you to trust me when I tell you that it's not safe. Because if you don't, if you cause an impossible paradox and break the laws of time or destroy the universe, then young or not, child or not, unknowing or not, you will have me to answer to."
April had backed away, her heart pounding. She nearly tripped over the chairs, trying to get away. This wasn't the Doctor. And this wasn't the Oncoming Storm or the Time Lord Victorious either. Those would be worse, so much worse. But even now, she was scared out of her wits. For the first time it struck her that this was not just a happy-go-lucky, quirky alien going on adventures. This was a complicated space-time event, full of power and knowledge and able to make demons run at the sound of his name.
"So, listen to me, and listen to me closely," the Doctor said, looking each of them in the eyes. "When you travel with me, you follow my rules, or I drop you off with UNIT. Mistakes are understandable, but if you knowingly tell anyone anything about the future. You will not mention anything you know anymore to anyone except yourselves, whether it's the color of my previous incarnation's shoes or the entire backstory of the alien trying to destroy Earth unless I, with knowledge of the inner workings of time, ask you to. Now, I ask you again, do you understand?" He said coldly.
April nodded, adrenaline rushing through her as if she was preparing to run. Shakily, she peeled herself off the coral strut that she had backed into.
"Sorry," Harriet said quietly, looking down at her feet.
Slowly, the coldness and anger slipped away from the Time Lord's eyes, and he was the Doctor again, just the Doctor. "Rule number three," he said matter-of-factly, "is no bringing knowledge about the future that you get travelling with me back to the past. No doors in your head." April would have laughed, but somehow it wasn't funny. "Rule number four is that if I tell you to do something, you listen to me. If I ask you to run, you have to run." Both girls nodded. "Right." He smiled again. "I needed to make sure you understood. Your knowledge is dangerous. It shouldn't exist. But if you follow the rules, there shouldn't be any problems."
"What if…" April said slowly, not wanting to draw his ire. "What if aliens from Planet A are vulnerable to substance B, which we know from watching the show."
"April," the Doctor said, "there isn't any show."
"Fine," she said, "which we know from our knowledge that we think is the show. If we're being attacked by aliens from Planet A, can we use substance B or are we expected to die?"
"Yes. Most of the time. Well, not necessarily, but in that case it would be even worse if you died, so yes. You can use your knowledge. But don't draw attention to it, and please, try not to disrupt the causal nexus if you can help it." There was a pause. "Any questions?" April shook her head.
"No," Harriet said. "But don't you owe Martha a trip? She saved your life."
"Yep," the Doctor said cheerfully, "I suppose she did. One trip, though," he said. "And one trip only."
It was night out, and six people were arguing on the street. The Doctor, Harriet, and April stood at the corner, watching them.
"Oh, I'm never talking to your family again!" One of them said, storming off. Martha's dad's newest girlfriend, April remembered.
"Oh, stay. Have a night out with Clive," Francine, Martha's mother, said.
"Don't you dare. I'm putting my foot down."
"You coming?" The girlfriend asked.
"This is me, putting my foot down," Clive said, following her away.
"Doing it for the last twenty-five years!" Francine shouted after him.
"Please," Clive said.
"Clive, stop, now!"
"Mum, don't. I—" Francine, Leo, and Tish ran after Clive and his girlfriend. Martha looked at them leaving, then turned around to see the three time-travelers on the street corner. They backed away, and she followed them back to the TARDIS.
"You're okay?" Martha asked April and Harriet.
"Yeah," April said, smiling. It was hard to smile. Stop it, you get to travel with the Doctor. How awesome is that?
And I might never see my family again. The smile slid off her face.
"I went to the moon today," Martha said, turning to the Doctor.
"A bit more peaceful than down here," the Doctor said.
"You never even told me who you are," she said. "And you didn't really either," she added, turning to April and Harriet.
"The Doctor," he said. "April, Harriet."
"What sort of species? It's not every day I get to ask that."
"It doesn't matter," the Doctor said, and April frowned. He was supposed to tell her, but something about their presence there had changed that. "I just thought since you saved my life, you might fancy a trip. Just one, as a sort of thank you."
"And you two travel with him?" Martha asked. The conversation was changing a lot now. I'm not going to be able to keep them the same, April decided.
"Yeah," Harriet said, "but we just started. Right after the hospital fiasco. Only gone on one trip."
"Well?" The Doctor said.
"You want me to travel into space with you three?" She asked.
"Well," the Doctor said again.
"But I can't," Martha said. "I've got exams. I've got things to do. I have to go into town first thing and pay the rent, I've got my family going mad." April withheld a sigh of relief. The conversation was back on track, but she didn't want to make it seem like she didn't want Martha along. Martha Jones, doctor in training who saved the world countless times. Of course, Martha had to come. If she didn't, then April and Harriet would have to take her place, and even with knowledge of the show, April didn't think she could. The woman who walked the Earth. April would have to prevent that year from happening somehow.
"If it helps," the Doctor grinned, "I can travel in time as well."
"Get out of here," Martha said, laughing.
"I can. Tell her," he said to Harriet.
"Come on now, that's going too far." She paused. "Can he?"
"Yeah," Harriet grinned mischievously. "I think she's gonna want proof, Doctor."
"You three, wait outside." He stepped into his TARDIS, closing the door behind him. In a moment, the TARDIS dematerialized. Martha reached into the space where it was.
"You went off with an alien?" Martha said.
"What else were we gonna do?" Harriet asked.
"You should come," April told her. "You—"
She had been going to say 'You won't regret it'. But she would, and April couldn't stand lying. At least, she would if April didn't find any way to change the future. The TARDIS began to materialize, and the Doctor stepped out, holding his tie.
"Told you," the Doctor said.
"No…get out of here. That was this morning! Did you? Oh, my god, you did! You can travel in time! But hold on. If you could see me this morning, why didn't you tell me not to go in to work?" She asked.
"Crossing into established events is strictly forbidden," he said formally. "Except for cheap tricks," he amended. "Besides, if you didn't go in, I wouldn't be here to tell you not to, and time would correct back to this, the stable loop. If we were lucky."
"And what if we weren't?" Harriet asked.
"Then time attempt to clean the wound." Reapers, April thought. That was what could happen if she or Harriet made a mistake. No wonder the Doctor was so angry when they talked about sharing their future knowledge.
Stop it, she told herself. It's not dangerous, the Doctor just thinks it is. I'm from a parallel universe. Or at least my knowledge is. Maybe I went through some sort of matter conversion?
"And that's your spaceship?" Martha wondered.
"It's called the TARDIS. Time and Relative Dimension in Space."
"Your spaceship's made of wood," Martha said in disbelief. "There's not much room, we couldn't all possibly fit."
"Take a look," April said, stepping in. Harriet and the Doctor followed, and then Martha entered behind them.
"No, no, no." Martha ran out, then back in. "How does it do that? It's wood! It's like a box with that room just rammed in. It's bigger on the inside!" April couldn't help but giggle, and she saw Harriet doing the same.
"Is it?" The Doctor said, mouthing the words along with her. "I hadn't noticed." He shut the door. "Right then, let's get going."
"Are you the crew?" Martha asked the two girls. "Like, navigator and stuff? I thought you were human."
"We are," April said, "and we've got no clue how to pilot this thing."
"So, it's just you, then, controlling your ship."
"Just me," the Doctor said. "Just one trip to say thanks," he clarified. "You get one trip, then back home. I'd rather be on my own."
"Well, you wouldn't be," she pointed out.
"They've got to come," he said.
"Why?" Martha asked. "You didn't force them, did you, 'cos if you did, that's not alright, alien or not."
"He asked us," April assured her. "We'd be in danger if we stayed." She saw the Doctor's warning look. Right. He doesn't want Martha to know about this? I don't see why. I guess the more people who know the truth, the more dangerous it is. Natural, I guess. Martha could slip or something, but she wouldn't. At least, I don't think she would. She's Martha Jones. She managed to trick the Master, she wouldn't accidentally betray us. But still. The Doctor doesn't know that. "I mean," April said quickly, "randomly appeared in the middle of London, and we're American. People might think we're aliens and want to dissect us or something. But he didn't make us come. The Doctor wouldn't do that. He's good." You're trying to convince yourself.
No, I'm not. I'm already convinced.
Great, so now we're ignoring evidence?
What evidence? "The Doctor was scary?" Come on, that's not evidence in the slightest. He's a Time Lord, of course you're going to feel intimidated. It has nothing to do with his morality.
"When I find out what's going on, if they're safe, then I'll drop them off," he said quietly. "They can have a normal life. No more danger."
"And you'll be all on your own again?" Martha asked, obviously feeling bad.
"Well, sometimes I have guests. I mean some friends, travelling alongside. I had. But one trip, so make it count. Well, then," he grinned, fiddling with the controls. "Welcome aboard, Miss Jones."
Chapter 7: Witchcraft
The year is 1599, and the Carrionites are beginning their plot to take over the world. Meanwhile, April acts against her better judgement in an attempt to save the Master of the Revel's life.
"I promised you one trip," said the Doctor, walking towards the door as the three girls recovered from the bumpy ride. "Outside this door, brave new world."
"Where are we?" Martha asked the Doctor.
"Take a look. After you." The two stepped out of the TARDIS.
"What if we die?" April asked Harriet, who was standing by the door.
"We'll be fine," Harriet laughed. "Don't you wanna see Shakespeare?" April put on a smile. It would be really exciting, and if she was going to go travelling around with the Doctor, she might as well make the most of it. Even if it did mean she would have to deal with evil alien witches. Taking a deep breath, April stepped out into the world.
It was night, and the streets were bustling with people, wearing dresses and old-fashioned suits, though April supposed some would be considered the latest new fashion at the time. The smell of horses permeated the air. April could hear whinnying in the background as people bartered at the marketplace and urchins ran through the streets. Torches lit up the city, their glow warming the air and giving it a cheerful atmosphere.
"Oh, you are kidding me," Martha said. "You are so kidding me. Oh, my god, we did it. We travelled in time. Where are we? No, sorry. I gotta get used to this whole new language. When are we?" April and Harriet smiled. They had travelled in time before, yes, to get to Logopolis, but it felt different. This was Earth at a different time. A whole new world, and right there in their past.
"Mind out," the Doctor said, pulling Martha back as a man emptied a bucket from a window. April and Harriet had both made sure to get out of the way beforehand.
"Watch the water!" Someone shouted. April could've sworn that they'd spoken in French during the show. She remembered arguing with one of her brothers about whether it made sense for Martha to hear a different language. TARDIS translation circuit, she reminded herself.
"It's like in the films," Martha was saying. "You step on a butterfly, you change the future of the human race."
"Tell you what, then," the Doctor said, rushing forwards. "Don't step on any butterflies. What have butterflies ever done to you?"
"It won't cause a problem," Harriet assured her.
"And this is London?" Martha said, catching up with the Doctor.
"I think so," he said. "Round about 1599."
"Oh, but hold on," Martha said. "Am I alright? I'm not going to get carted off as a slave, am I?"
"There's got to be some sort of perception filter or something," April said, hoping to avoid the Doctor's insensitive answer.
"Humans tend to ignore anything that doesn't fit in with their worldview," he said. "Just walk about like you own the place. Works for me." April could see Harriet cringe. "Besides," he said, either ignoring her or not realizing Martha's discomfort, "you'd be surprised. Elizabethan England, not so different from your time. Look over there. They've got recycling. Water cooler moment. Global warming. Oh, yes, and entertainment. Popular entertainment for the masses. If I'm right, we're just down the river by Southwark, right next to—"
He pulled them along until they could see it. "Oh, yes, the Globe Theatre! Brand new. Just opened. Though, strictly speaking, it's not a globe, it's a tetradecagon. Fourteen sides. Containing the man himself."
"Whoa, you don't mean."
"We get to meet Shakespeare!" Harriet said, bouncing up and down. For the older one, Harriet can sometimes act much less mature, thought April.
"Well, would you like to take a look?" The Doctor asked them.
"Shakespeare," Martha said, shaking her head. "Oh, my god, we can see Shakespeare!" April followed as they walked towards the theatre, nervous about what was to come. If she could persuade the Master of the Revels not to cancel the show, he wouldn't be killed. Or if she could do something about Lilith…but would the Doctor get upset with her for acting on future knowledge? Convincing the Master of the Revels to let the play happen would work; she would just be excited to see something lost to history, in the Doctor's eyes. He wouldn't know that she was trying to change things.
No, said a voice inside of her, somehow convinced in its truth. He would, he would somehow. Do you really think you could trick him? For once, April, you're not the most intelligent person around, it's the Doctor, and he'll know.
There's no way he would.
And besides, the Doctor said you can't for a reason! It's not like he wants people to die. He said you could destroy the universe with a paradox.
I'm from another universe—it wouldn't cause a paradox.
You don't know that.
Yes! I! Do! Someone's life was in danger. She couldn't just stand there and let a man die, whatever stupid rules were there to stop her.
Had Mr. Stoker died, back at the hospital? She'd never asked. Did the Doctor get there in time to save him without her slowing him down? Did her advice save a life? Or had he died all the same? I've got to do something, April decided. But what was there to do, without breaking one of the Doctor's rules?
Lilith gets one of the Master of the Revel's hairs, doesn't he? April realized. If I can position myself to stop her…She looked at Harriet, cheerfully walking along and chatting with Martha and the Doctor, meeting her heroes. But April couldn't just forget about it, let the story play out. Because Harriet had been right earlier. Harriet had been the most adamant about stopping everything that went wrong, but she had also completely dropped it. And April wasn't going to let herself do that.
Back at the tavern, April was sitting down at a table with Shakespeare, watching him attempt to flirt with Martha.
"Such unusual clothes. So fitted," he said, staring at her like she had a horn growing out of her head.
"Er, verily, forsooth, egads," Martha tried.
"No, no, don't do that. Don't. I'm Sir Doctor of Tardis," the Doctor said, showing Shakespeare his psychic paper. "My companion, Miss Martha Jones, and my, er, nieces, Harriet and April."
"Interesting, that bit of paper," said Shakespeare. "It's blank."
"Oh, that's very clever," grinned the Doctor. "That proves it. Absolute genius."
"No, it says right there. Our names," Martha protested.
"And I say it's blank."
"Psychic paper. Er, long story. Oh, I hate starting from scratch."
"Psychic?" Shakespeare asked, trying out the word. "Never heard that before and words are my trade. Who are you, exactly? More to the point, who is your delicious blackamoor lady?"
"What did you say?" Martha asked, affronted.
"Oops," Shakespeare said, embarrassed. "Isn't that a word, we use nowadays? An Ethiop girl? A Queen of Afric?"
"I can't believe I'm hearing this."
"It's political correctness gone mad," the Doctor said. April glanced around nervously, waiting for the Master of the Revels to arrive. "Er, Martha's from a far-off land. Freedonia." Finally, a man in expensive clothing entered the room.
"Excuse me! Hold hard a moment, this is abominable behavior. A new play with no warning? I demand to see a script, Mr. Shakespeare. As Master of the Revels, every new script must be registered at my office and examined by me before it can be performed."
"Tomorrow morning, first thing, I'll send it round," Shakespeare promised.
"I don't work your schedule; you work to mine." 'Shedule.' I'm sure they find our way of saying it just as strange. April tried giggle at his pronunciation. And she was pretty sure that the Master of the Revels noticed. "The script, now!"
"He can give it to you really quickly," April said. A pretty girl with light brown hair was spying from the shadows. "Tonight. Just a few more hours."
"I listen not to the whining of undignified women!" He said. Harriet snorted.
"But the people love his stories," April tried. "Imagine their disappointment when they discover that Loves Labors Won won't be performed! And, good sir, they would blame you, uneducated as they are."
He paused, clearly thinking about it, and April's heart filled with hope. If he didn't interfere, then he wouldn't become involved in this. And no one else would have to be hurt. This could work.
'What are you doing?' Harriet mouthed. April didn't respond.
"I heed not the likes of you!" Insisted the Master of the Revels. "I'm returning to my office for a banning order. If it's the last thing I do, Love's Labours Won will never be played!" April could see Lilith slip away as he turned on his heels and stomped down the stairs.
"I thank you, for trying," Shakespeare said, his head in his hands, "but he cannot be dissuaded."
"I have to get something," April lied, standing up. "I think I dropped my polishing cloth for my glasses on my way." What are you doing, what are you doing, what are you doing?
I'm saving his life.
Then you're an idiot!
Well, I'm not going to be a coward!
I am not going to sit here calling myself names when someone is going to die!
April hurried out before anyone could stop her, including Harriet. Rushing down the stairs, she only hoped that she would get to the courtyard in time.
"Begging your pardon, sir," Lilith was saying to the Master of the Revels.
"You!" April said. 'Walk around like you own the place,' April remembered the Doctor saying. Straightening her shoulders, she held her chin up and looked down at Lilith like she was a creature hardly worthy of her time. "Are you not supposed to be working?"
"Of course, ma'am, sorry, ma'am, I'll be on my way, ma'am," Lilith said humbly. She looked over at the Master of the Revels, and began to reach for his hair.
"Stop!" April said forcefully. "A person of your station belongs far away from the likes of us. Do not dare presume to touch him." Lilith regarded her carefully for a moment.
"And what would your name be, ma'am?" She asked.
April opened her mouth to tell her. No! What're you doing? She'll name you! April caught herself just in time. "That is none of your business," April said. "Now off with you!" She watched as Lilith ran away.
"What are you doing out here?" The Master of the Revels sneered.
"I came to warn you. She is no witch, but she is dangerous all the same. Don't let her lay a finger on you."
"I need not your help or aid," he said, chin even higher in the air as he pranced off. April sighed. You idiot! Said that annoying voice that had been speaking up quite frequently in the past…how long had it even been? What did you do?
I saved his life.
For all you know—
Shut up! April silenced it. Hopefully the Master of the Revels would listen to her. Then she went back inside, and sat down at the table.
"You're alright!" Harriet said, smiling.
"Why wouldn't she be?" Martha asked.
The Doctor watched Harriet's worry fade away, and frowned. "Something's wrong. This isn't the only reason the play was never performed."
"Shouldn't—" Harriet began.
"Don't tell me," the Doctor insisted. "If you cause a paradox…"
"April, what did you do?" Harriet asked.
"Nothing," April said. "I got my glasses cloth."
"There's supposed to be—"
And then there was a scream. Just like there was supposed to be.
"No!" April shouted, jumping up. He hadn't listened to her, and now she was dead. Dead. Forever. What was his name? It was so cliched that April almost laughed in spite of herself. She had been calling him 'The Master of the Revels'. And she had tried everything she could, and he had still died. It was straight out of a storybook. Even with all of her knowledge, she still couldn't change the future.
The Doctor ran outside, his coat billowing out behind him. So, what now?
We go on. More people to save. One person died, yes. And there's…plenty of people in the world that haven't. The rest of the group ran out, leaving April behind in the inn. So, she took a deep breath, and then she followed them out into the night.
"This way!" The Doctor yelled.
Then there was another, higher scream. "He's dead! Oh, he's dead!" The group ran into an alleyway, where the Master of the Revels lay on the ground. But instead of his mouth gushing water, he appeared to have just…stopped.
"No," April whispered. "I stopped her, I—" She ran to the body, kneeling over it.
"Got to get the heart going," Martha said. "Mr. Lynley, come on. Can you hear me? You're going to be—" The Doctor touched her shoulder gently.
"His mind is gone."
"His mind is gone?" Martha asked faintly. "It doesn't work like that!" She began to prepare for CPR. "If I can just restart his heart—"
"He's dead," April said. "I can't believe it." She looked at his eyes, glassy, unfeeling. He hadn't deserved this. No one deserved this.
Yeah, well, life's not fair.
Shut up, shut up, shut up!
"Watch the water!" Someone above them shouted, and April jumped back just in time to avoid the bucket of waste falling on her. It covered Mr. Lynley's body and face, soaking his well-made, old-fashioned, modern fashion clothes. Slimy, dirty water all over him, and Martha, to her credit, didn't even blink. She leaned over him to start CPR, but Shakespeare held her back.
"Get off me!" She yelled, and April reminded herself never to get in the way of a doctor and her patient.
"His soul is with God now," Shakespeare said. "And he is at peace."
"That's not how it works!" Martha yelled again. "We can save him, if you just let me go!"
"I'm so, so sorry," the Doctor said to the body. April bent down to close his eyes, ignoring the smell. She felt sick, and it wasn't the bucket of sewage. Then the Doctor turned to the woman who had screamed. "Good mistress, this poor fellow has died from a sudden imbalance of the humours. A natural if unfortunate demise. Call a constable and have him taken away."
"Yes, sir," she said, running off.
"And why are you telling him that?" Martha demanded.
"His entire psyche disappeared, wiped. He just died for no apparent reason, and his heart stopped because there was no one to keep it beating for," the Doctor frowned. "This lot still have got one foot in the Dark Ages. If I tell them the truth, they'll panic and think it was witchcraft."
"Okay," Martha said, calming down. "What was it then?"
The Doctor stood up, and despite everything that had happened thus far, he smiled. "Witchcraft."
Chapter 8: Night at the Inn
April and Harriet plan out their moves, but they forgot an important detail. And April's attempt to save Lynley has caught the Carrionites' attention.
"Poor Lynley," Shakespeare was saying. They were sitting in Shakespeare's room, talking as they ate the food the innkeeper brought. "So many strange events. Not least of all, this land of Freedonia where a woman can be a doctor?"
"Where a woman can do what she likes," Martha said.
"And you, Sir Doctor, with nieces to whom you show no affection. How can a man so young have eyes so old?"
"Oh, they grew up in America, just met them. But I gladly watch over them for their late father," the Doctor said.
"That did not answer my question."
"I do a lot of reading," the Doctor said. April smiled in spite of herself.
"And you?" Shakespeare said, turning to Martha. "You look at him like you're surprised he exists. He's as much of a puzzle to you as he is to me."
"I think we should say goodnight," Martha said, exiting the room.
"I must work," Shakespeare said. "I have a play to complete. But I'll get my answers tomorrow, Doctor, and I'll discover more about you and why this constant performance of yours.
"All the world's a stage." Harriet snickered.
"Hmm, I might use that," Shakespeare said thoughtfully. "Goodnight, Doctor."
"Nighty night, Shakespeare." He gave Harriet and April an expression like 'I can't believe I got to say that'. Then, the three left, going to the room their room at the inn.
"It's not exactly five star, is it?" Martha said, looking around the room as she held a candle. It was small, the wood floor a light brown and the mattresses thin. April made a mental note to bring a flashlight, or torch as the Doctor would say, next time she left the TARDIS.
"Oh, it'll do. I've seen worse."
"I haven't even got a toothbrush," Martha said.
"Oh. Er." He pulled one out of his pocket, and Martha looked at it in disgust. "Contains Venusian spearmint."
"So, who's going where? I mean, there's two beds," Martha pointed out.
"April and Harriet can share," he said, then saw Martha's expression. April looked at the small bed. It would barely fit the two of them, let alone Martha as well. It looked like she was stuck with the Doctor. Urg, she didn't envy her. Although, from her friend's expression, she was pretty sure Harriet did.
"So," Martha said. "Magic and stuff. That's a surprise. It's all a bit Harry Potter. Do they read that across the pond?" She asked the two younger girls. The Doctor lay down on his and Martha's bed while April and Harriet crawled into their own.
"April keeps trying to get me to read it," Harriet said.
"It's great," April said.
"Who are you two anyway?" Martha asked. "I don't even know your surnames, just that you're kids from America."
"Harriet Taylor, from New York. I'm eighteen."
"And I'm April Storm. Seventeen years old. I—"
"Wait till you read book seven, Martha Jones," the Doctor interrupted before they could say anything more. "Oh, I cried."
"But is it real, though? I mean, witches, black magic and all that, it's real?"
"Course it isn't!" The Doctor said.
"Well, how are we supposed to know? I've only just started believing in time travel. Give me a break."
"Looks like witchcraft, but it isn't. Can't be. Are you going to stand there all night?"
"Budge up a bit then," Martha said, climbing in. She seemed as if she was going to say something, but then looked over at the other two girls and didn't.
"There's such a thing as psychic energy, but a human couldn't channel it like that. Not without a generator the size of Tauton and I think we'd have spotted that. No, there's something I'm missing. Something really close, staring me right in the face and I can't see it. Rose'd know. A friend of mine, Rose. Right now, she'd say exactly the right thing. Still, can't be helped. You're novices, never mind. And you, April, Harriet—you're just kids." He sighed. "I'll take you back home tomorrow, Martha." April grimaced at his insensitivity, watching Martha roll over and blow out the candle. And then there was darkness.
April wished that they'd turn the light back on, just until she fell asleep, but she didn't want to feel like a baby in front of one of her best friends, let alone the Doctor and Martha Jones, the powerful Time Lord and confident, capable doctor who had the skills to walk the Earth that never was and the courage to walk away. Both of them were amazing, whereas Harriet and April's only benefit in this was knowing the future—and they weren't even allowed to tell anyone. Sort of like Cassandra, but instead of no one believing my words, they try to scare me into staying silent. I guess like Cassandra in that no one will listen when we say Doctor Who is a real TV Show. I wonder how that happened? She sighed, trying to banish her fears, but it didn't work.
I saw a dead man, she thought. April had seen the body of her dead dog, but never a human. I tried to stop it, she comforted herself. I did my best, that's all there is to it. But a man had died, and she felt as if a tiny portion of the naïve young girl who left New York had died with him.
Great, we're doing clichés now.
April rolled over, willing herself to fall asleep. But she couldn't. The sight of the corpse was burned behind her eyelids, but that wasn't the worst of it. It was almost as if his death had opened the floodgates. Everyone who had ever died on TV was there, images seared into her mind. The man in The Ring, Cedric's lifeless body in Harry Potter, Rue in the Hunger Games. All dead. April felt sick. Every death in Doctor Who was real. Would be real. All those hopeless redshirts that she'd laughed at, dead. Lilith had killed someone, she remembered, a suitor who came to her house at night and sang songs to her as she watched from her window. She had killed him and laughed.
And it was real.
Back before this whole mess, April and her brothers had rolled their eyes at how typically villainous her laughter was, how the whole thing had completely failed at being scary. Now, though, it certainly wasn't failing.
"I think they're asleep," Harriet whispered. Neither other bed's occupants contradicted her. "So, what do we do? How do we fix this?"
"You were right," April said. "We can't just let it play out."
"You tried to save him, didn't you? That's why he didn't drown."
"She must've named him, I made sure she didn't get a lock of his hair."
"That was stupid," Harriet said. "You can't risk yourself like that."
"I was trying to save his life," April protested.
"Shh," Harriet said.
"I was trying to save his life," April repeated, quieter this time.
"But if the Doctor finds out…" Harriet said.
"Do you think he will?" April asked.
"No, but really, that was stupid."
April shook her head. It was, though. She could've recognized me; I could have clued her in on the fact that we're going to investigate. And it didn't even accomplish anything. "Fine," she said. "It was. I thought I could save someone and decided to play hero, and I wasn't even good at it."
There was a pause. "So," Harriet said. "Let's assume we get through this. Just let the Doctor and Martha say the right things at the right time. What do we do then?"
"In Gridlock," April answered, "not many people that we can save. At least that was one of the one's I liked, so we can get the timing right on everything. The Face of Boe has to die, and we can't do much about those two motorcars the Macra get. No access to them, no clue who they are. We don't have to change much, but we'd slow the Doctor down. Could tell him to go without us."
"But the Daleks. So many people died." There was a pause. "I'm so tired. Can't think right now."
"Well," April said. "One thing at a time, right? We just need to get through tomorrow. Stick to the script. Only that poor man who built the Globe will get hurt…right?" Was she forgetting anyone? April was exhausted, unable to think clearly. "We could try to stop that."
"Peter. He's insane, hurting," Harriet said. "He might consider death a mercy." What? April thought. Since when was Harriet the one who wanted to let other people die?
"What if he doesn't?" April asked.
"You were the one advocating for letting the Master escape the chameleon arch," Harriet pointed out.
"Because if Clara doesn't meet the Doctor…" She trailed off. "Alright, I was wrong. But…we can save Peter's life."
"How?" Harriet asked. "We'd only endanger our own lives, and he has nothing left in this world."
April paused. She was scared. When she had tried to stop Lilith earlier, it had been impulsive. She had had no clue what she was doing. And she didn't think she had the courage to try to stop that one with the finger from killing Peter. I guess that's why I'd never make a good companion, she thought. Martha would do anything to save him, mad or not, in pain or not.
Well, she decided, I guess that makes me a bad person then. Deal with it, I guess. "Yeah," she said.
"We can save other people. We'll make a plan way before Daleks in Manhattan, stop the whole thing. Guide the Doctor towards the answer earlier. Or save the Dalek-Humans," Harriet said. "Right now, we just need to stay as close to cannon as possible. Keep quiet, be like we're not even there. Shadows. Just watching."
"Shadows," April agreed.
Harriet rolled over, and a minute later April could hear her snoring. Go to sleep, she told herself.
What happens next? She found herself wondering. April didn't remember the episode perfectly. Did they wake up in the morning, or did they wake up at night and figure something out? She closed her eyes, thinking. I'm missing something. The plot of the episode was that they changed the last lines of Shakespeare's play to bring about the end of the world. Big stakes. So, when did they change the lines?
Tonight, she remembered. Should I try to stop them?
No, there's no point, they'll succeed anyway.
Why do I feel like I'm missing something? April thought, and thought, and thought, trying to remember as much as she could. That night, they would wake up, and Martha would see Lilith flying away. But why would they wake up?
A scream, I think. Yes! A scream. That woman who works here. I don't know her…April's heart began to race. She and Harriet had made a huge mistake. They had thought that only Peter would get hurt, but they were wrong. Because they had forgotten the woman who died of fright. April sat up in bed, her eyes wide, and began to shake her friend.
"Harriet!" She whispered urgently. "Harriet, we forgot about—"
But Harriet wasn't waking up. Harriet fell asleep quickly, but she was always a light sleeper. If she wouldn't wake up…April froze. Something was off about this. April shivered, noticing that it was colder than before. Turning over, April looked at the window. But the window was open, and the curtains were flapping in the breeze. And right by the window, there was a broom, and holding that broom was Lilith.
She was smiling.
April opened her mouth to scream, but just like in her worst nightmares, no sound came out. She jumped up from bed, ready to run towards the door, but Lilith removed a small bottle from her dress and uncorked it, blowing the green vapor towards April. Holding her breath, April rattled the doorknob, desperate to escape, but the room was locked and no one was coming. Against her will, April breathed in, and the last thing she saw was Lilith's sharp, pointy teeth.
Chapter 9: Escape
Captured by the Carrionites, April must somehow manage to survive and get back to her friends.
April opened her mouth to scream, but just like in her worst nightmares, no sound came out. She jumped up from bed, ready to run towards the door, but Lilith removed a small bottle from her dress and uncorked it, blowing the green vapor towards April. Holding her breath, April rattled the doorknob, desperate to escape, but the room was locked and no one was coming. Against her will, April breathed in, and the last thing she saw was Lilith's sharp, pointy teeth.
Slowly, April became aware that wherever she was, it definitely was not her room at the inn. She was lying on the cold, hard floor, and her head ached as if someone had decided to whack it with a club. Her wrists and ankles were bound with coarse sailor's rope, and had been for some time if the pain was anything to go by.
She could smell strange herbs and the air seemed to be thick with some sort of energy. Sage, mistletoe, peppermint, and others that she couldn't name. April blinked, and realized that the familiar weight of her glasses was gone. She squinted, trying to see. Around her, the entire room was blurry. Two shadowy figures waited by a cauldron of some sort, filled with water. The mothers, April's brain supplied. The herbs and plants hung all around the room, with strange dreamcatcher-like objects and metal chains. The room was lit by an assortment of candles and torches, their fires dancing as if augmented by magic.
There was the sound of cackling, and Lilith flew in, her brown hair flying and her face the face of a monster. "Oh, my mothers," she said, placing her broom by the window. "The deed is done!"
"From the pen of the writer, the words of power shall pour forth, and the end of days shall come!" Cackled one of the mothers.
April looked around, her mind racing. However much it would ruin the plot, she would name them if that's what it took to escape. She didn't want to die. Wriggling around, she tried to undo her bonds, but the ropes were tied too tight. There were plenty of sharp objects in the room—rusty knives, shining hooks, and even a dull grey sword. If she could just reach one…no, the Carrionites would prevent her from ever getting close enough. They were insanely powerful, able to stop her heart with a single touch, and she couldn't risk them noticing an escape attempt.
She didn't know the mother's individual names, but she could use Carrionite for one of them and Lilith for the daughter. But that would still leave one left. But if she could get one of the mothers to leave, or better yet, two of them, then she would be able to send them away. They'd be back, of course, but then she could get out.
Of course, there was another option. She could give the Carrionites whatever they wanted and hope they left her for after they took over the world. For some reason, they had entered her room and only taken her, not Martha, Harriet, or the Doctor. Probably because you tried to stop Lilith from hurting the Master of the Revels, whatever he was called again, she realized. Come on, April, of all the stupid, ridiculous, impulsive things to do…
April looked up and realized that Lilith was standing over her. Her face had turned back to that of a beautiful woman, but somehow, she still seemed to radiate evil. "The youngest human has awoken," she said. "Child of two worlds, you are out of your time." Two worlds…but that would mean—
"I knew it," she said triumphantly, hoping to stick with her noblewoman ruse from before. "I knew you—thou art a servant of the Devil, wanton woman!" There. That sounded suitably old-fashioned to April, though for all she knew she sounded from the seventeenth or fifteenth century rather than the sixteenth.
"Feign not ignorance, I counsel thee, else 'morrow's sun, thou shalt not see," Lilith cackled, bending down. April's heart began to race, as if refusing to rest would keep it going when Lilith's finger touched her chest. But instead of killing her, Lilith plucked a hair from her head and placed it on her doll. She held in in the air, threateningly.
"What do you want?" April asked. Don't pretend to be ignorant…then they must want information. I could lie to them. They might not know the difference. But if they decide I'm useless, then they'll just kill me, so I have to at least pretend I'll do whatever they want.
"Thou knoweth our plans," Lilith said, looking down at her. "And hath tried to sway the mind of Mister Lynley. Yet thou also attempted to stop us, when he refused to allow the play to be performed. Why?"
April watched as the two mothers leant over the cauldron. Lilith said the deed had been done—Shakespeare had written the lines and another poor person had died. But the Doctor would have realized that she was gone. If he went to Bedlam Asylum, then he would find this place and come in to rescue her. All she had to do was stay alive until he got there.
"I was trying to save his life," she said.
"And how didst thou see our plans. Thou art from another time, yet a mere mortal. Thou cannot have known. And yet…" She plucked another of April's hairs. This time, she felt it sting. "My mothers, we shall find the truth!" Placing the hair in the cauldron, she linked hands with the mothers while April edged towards one of the sharp knives on the wall.
"The past and futures rend to view," chanted the witches as April began to rub the bonds in her hands against the rusty knife, praying that she wouldn't cut off any fingers. "The vortex of time we shall see through. Night and day, they matter not, seek forth the time till she doth rot. A strand of life, through dark, through light, tells thine enemies how they must fight. Lead us through the mortal's path, and see how she hath found our wrath!" The three witches stirred the cauldron as they spoke until the final word. In an instant, they removed their spoons and Lilith plunged her hands into the cold, dark water.
Then her eyes snapped open as the bonds around April's hands broke. Ignoring the pain in her wrists, April wrenched the knife away from the metal that held it and began to furiously saw through the rope tying her ankles together.
"Mothers! Mother Bloodtide, Mother Doomfinger!" She called, her eyes wide and frightened. Okay. Doomfinger. Bloodtide. Doomfinger. Bloodtide. "It's so dark and bright, night and day, both at once! Oh mothers!" The two mothers rushed to her, holding her upright.
"What do you see, my daughter?" One asked Lilith. "Tell us, how does the child know?"
Finally, she chopped through the last strands, and April slowly crawled towards the door, not wanting to draw attention. Come on, come on, don't look, don't look, don't look. Please don't look. Carefully, she turned the knob. "Two sights!" Lilith called. "Oh, the light, it's beautiful! Copper lines, thin, shining, copper wires, and the lights of two worlds, but one is darkness!" Her head spun around, just as the door creaked. "The child!" Then she collapsed in her mother's arms as the witches turned around to see April escaping.
Giving up on stealth, April pulled the door open and ran, slamming it behind her and hoping that the mothers wouldn't follow. She ran down the stairs, grateful that she couldn't hear footsteps behind her, and stopped, breathing heavily. Her heart pounded as she ran out the door, and she paused, taking a breather. And then she looked up.
There hadn't been any footsteps following her. Unfortunately, witches could fly. "Dare not to defy witches of the night!" Cackled the Carrionite, holding up the doll. April froze. If she had the doll, then she could kill April in a second. Squinting, April realized that she was one of the mothers. Which one? She wondered. The mothers looked practically identical to her. Come on, Sherlock Holmes, what would he do? What would he know? April's thoughts raced. Mother Doomfinger was closest to the window. It wasn't enough to go on, but it was the best she had. Taking a deep breath, April looked up at her. She had to try. And she'd only get one go at this.
Does a naming require a rhyme? She wondered, her mind going a mile a minute. Lilith does a rhyme. 'I gaze upon this bag of bones and hereby name thee Martha Jones.' What rhymes with Doomfinger? Ainger, binger. Bringer!
Why couldn't Harriet do this? She's the theatre kid, she'd love this. April took a deep breath. "What do you want?" She called. Buy time, lull them into a false sense of security. "I'll do anything, just don't hurt me." Her voice was legitimately scared, genuine. April was pretty sure she was crying, though it could just be the cold air. The Carrionite came closer, flying down to the ground.
"What did you do to Lilith?" She asked April.
"Nothing, nothing, I don't know, I swear I don't know."
"What is the Doctor doing?" When April failed to answer, she brought the needle that she held closer to the ugly doll.
April took a deep breath. Now or never. "I—Witch, of…chaos you are the bringer." The Carrionite looked at her like 'go on, I like praise'. April took another breath, and then spoke as fast as she could, pointing at the Carrionite. "Therefore, I name thee Mother Doomfinger!" The witch screamed, and disappeared in a slow flash of light. April wiped her eyes, breathing heavily. She would have to run now, before the other Carrionite could—
It was too late. The Carrionite stood at the window, holding the soggy hair that Lilith had used for her scrying spell and fastening it onto another doll. I should've tried to burn them, April thought. "Thou shalt not play these foolish mortal games!" She yelled. "Your will shall perish in fire and flames!" And slowly, she moved towards a candle, preparing to drop the doll in.
"No!" April yelled. "Please, I!" She could feel the air around her getting warmer as the Carrionite approached the candle, cackling. A second later, it was unbearable. April breathed in the hot air, feeling it burning her throat, her tears evaporating in the sweltering heat. And then it got cooler, as Mother Bloodtide turned away, towards the cauldron.
"Who is this Doctor, who interferes now at our time of glory?" She asked, sneering at what she saw. "I must away!" April felt the wind knocked out of her as the doll dropped to the ground, and she herself fell, bruising her side. But Mother Bloodtide had disappeared, travelling to Bedlam Asylum to visit Peter and find the truth.
April pulled herself up, trying to ignore the pain. Really, you're lucky you haven't broken anything. That doll fell pretty far to the floor, considering its size. Taking one look at the house behind her, she broke into a run. As she did, she could see Mother Doomfinger cursing her from her window, gasping for breath. What was that, a minute? Less? They're quick about returning.
Where do I go? April asked herself.
The Asylum, just get to the Asylum.
"Someone," she panted, stopping in the street and clutching her side. She couldn't run anymore. "Can you…tell me…the way…to the Asylum?"
But it was late and the streets were deserted. "Please!" She called. "I need help! Where is the Asylum?"
A young man turned the corner, looking at her in confusion. He had short brown hair and green-grey eyes. His hands were covered in dirt, but his face seemed to be scrubbed pink. "What's a girl like you doin' out at this hour?" He asked.
"Where's the Asylum?" April said, no longer caring how ridiculous she seemed. "I need to know. Please."
"Oh, you escaped, did you?"
"No, my, my friends are there," she said desperately.
"I can take you there," he said. "You shouldn't be out unchaperoned this late at night." April paused to look up at him. Though his words seemed friendly enough his eyes glittered with malice.
"I don't think I need your help, actually," she said as she began to walk away. "Really, I'll be fine."
"Oh, I couldn't allow you to go off on your own," he said. "You'd be in great danger." He smiled, his mouth twisting into a wicked grin.
"Really," April said, breaking into a run, "I'm fine!" She didn't look back, her sneakers pounding on the dirt street. Why oh why did I ever leave the TARDIS? April wondered, pushing her hair out of her eyes. She was lost—how would she know anything about late sixteenth century England?
And then, April turned a corner and ran straight into Martha Jones.
Chapter 10: Siege
April appears to have escaped the Carrionites. But as the night continues, Team TARDIS finds themselves besieged - in more ways than one.
Firstly, there are some issues with timing of this episode (as in, a whole day seems to pass without anyone doing anything). This was largely due to plays at the Globe Theatre happening throughout the day. Hence, the scenes with it had to be done at night, despite the lack of historical accuracy (plays would not be performed at night during that time period either) and sense within the story. I have provided my best explanation for this.
Secondly, I have decided to skip encounters in the Expanded Universe. This is because a) I don't have access to most of the stories/audio plays in the EU; and b) I don't have the time/interest to write them. Assume all world-ending threats were taken care of by the relevant government officials and/or a specialized team of Time Travellers.
"Really," April said, breaking into a run, "I'm fine!" She didn't look back, her sneakers pounding on the dirt street. Why oh why did I ever leave the TARDIS? April wondered, pushing her hair out of her eyes. She was lost—how would she know anything about late sixteenth century England?
And then, April turned a corner and ran straight into Martha Jones.
"April!" Martha yelled. "Are you alright—"
"April!" Harriet ran over and gave her a giant hug, pressing into her bruised left side. April backed away uncomfortably, wincing. "What happened? You didn't do anything stupid, did you?"
"They got me, the witches," April said urgently. "I think one of them's coming after me, Mother Bloodtide."
"April," Harriet asked again, "are you sure you're alright?"
"C'mon," the Doctor said. "We have to go." April looked around him to see Shakespeare. The Doctor grabbed Martha's hand, and they began to run. "Well, come on," he said to April and Harriet, turning around. Sighing, April began to stumble after him.
By the time they made it to the inn, April could barely stand up. "Innkeeper!" The Doctor shouted to the man who was cleaning up the plates. "There are monsters about, the ones who killed Dolly and Lynley. Lock and bar the windows and doors." He nodded, his eyes wide, and then ran to the window to close it up.
"Come on," the Doctor said, pushing one of the tables against the door. "Martha, help me out." April sat down on the floor, clutching her side. After a few seconds, the Doctor came over and sat down next to her. "I have your glasses. A bit messy, but you can clean them off with your polishing cloth. Are you alright?" He asked, handing them to her. They were smudged, covered in fingerprints. Right. The polishing cloth. That…I "went to get". And instead nearly got myself killed.
April considered her answer. Was she? "Yes," she said.
"I need you to tell me what happened." April closed her eyes, thinking.
"I used my knowledge to get out," she said. The Doctor ran his hands through his hair. "Can I tell you?"
"Yes," he said, after a moment. "But that was dangerous, is still dangerous. Do they know how much you know?"
"Yes—well, they already did, somehow," April said. I should tell him what I did. But…he might react badly to it. Very badly. "And they did this spell. It was like…what's the word? Scrying. They did a scrying spell, to figure out how much I knew." April stopped, taking a deep breath. Is that a good enough lie? Well, not a lie. I…just implied that I have no clue how they knew about my knowledge. I can't believe it, though. The Doctor's telepathic, isn't he? What if he knows what I did?
That would mean he has to be reading my mind, and he can't just do that.
How do I know he can't sense a lie?
Because…well… Harriet sat down next to April.
"How did they get you?" She asked.
"They came in at night, I tried to wake you, Harriet, but everyone was stuck asleep." She stared at the wooden floor. "And then I couldn't talk and she used a green sleeping potion—"
"It's not magic," the Doctor pointed out.
"Fine, green fumes that made me fall asleep. I woke up in her witchy place, with Lilith and the two mothers. They asked me how I knew their plans, so I tried to pretend I was random person from this time who thought Lilith was a witch. It didn't work, they already knew so much. They decided to do a spell to figure out how I knew so much." The Doctor's eyes widened at that. "While they were chanting, I, I was tied up so I cut the ropes on this knife lying around. Somehow managed not to cut myself. And then...Lilith was seeing into, I don't know what she was doing. But she was going on about two worlds and light and dark, and then she collapsed. I ran out of the house but one of the mothers followed me."
"Does that mean we are from a parallel universe?" Harriet asked the Doctor, who shushed her.
"To stop her, I…did they figure it out yet?" April asked Harriet on the off chance that sharing her knowledge was actually dangerous to Time.
"You mean…I think."
"I named her. Mother Bloodfinger. And she disappeared in this flash of light. It's okay to tell you about naming now because you already figured it out, right?"
"No, well, sort of, well…" The Doctor trailed off. "Here it was safe, yes, but it's not always."
"The other one was going to kill me, but she disappeared, said she was going to stop you."
"He named her," Harriet said quietly. "Carrionite. Just he was supposed to."
"No. Not supposed to. Nothing is 'supposed to' happen. Except fixed points in time, and they always happen. They're constant. This is important, if you don't comprehend this, you could destroy the universe. You have to understand. It's not a question of supposed to. Time can be rewritten."
"I know," April said, nodding. "But what we saw on the—"
"There is no show!" He protested.
"But she said two worlds, didn't she?" Harriet asked.
April nodded. "Several times."
"This doesn't make any sense! The Block Transfer Calculations said you were from this universe, that you had never travelled across the void or even miraculously travelled to another universe without crossing the void."
"What about the bacteria?" April asked. "Can't you analyze that?"
"I could've," he said darkly, "but I was distracted. It's too late now. The TARDIS will have cycled it out so that you can live in 21st Century Earth without having to stay in a bubble. And fixed your immune systems too, to that standard." But home…if we get home then our immune systems…why didn't I think of that? Our immune systems won't be able to cope if they were changed.
The TARDIS can change them back. Probably. Well…I think it can? If it was able to change them once, then it should be able to revert them.
"But there was enough for the Judoon to think we weren't human," Harriet said. "The only way we can explain this is if we're from a parallel world."
"There are plenty of other explanations," the Doctor said. "The coming from the parallel world was a theory, and we disproved it."
"What other explanations?" April asked.
"You could have been taken to space and had the memory erased. You could've been taken out of your proper time and had the memory erased. But more likely, someone did this deliberately."
"Like, as an experiment?" Harriet asked. "Nobody would've done that."
"I can think of a few," the Doctor said darkly.
"Who?" April asked. He didn't answer.
Eventually, he shook his head. "Whatever happened, we will find out. Are you sure you're alright?" He asked April.
"Yeah," she said. "Fine." Like she was going to say she wasn't.
He got up, and went to go check on the defenses.
"You're not alright," Harriet said quietly.
"Of course, I'm not," April said, rolling her eyes. "I'm stuck in the wrong universe and no one believes me, and I've got evil alien witches trying to kill me."
"How do we fix this?" Harriet asked, tugging on her braids. "How do we make everything alright?"
"We just have to close off the portal when it opens. Leave it to Martha and the Doctor," April said slowly. "And then, problem solved, off we go." She sighed, watching as the remaining serving girl, Martha, Shakespeare, the innkeeper, and two of the patrons checked that each door was locked and barred and the Doctor fooled around with metal shoe buckles and his sonic screwdriver.
"This didn't happen in the episode," Harriet said.
"Yeah," she said. "Did Peter still die?"
Harriet nodded sadly. "I wanted to do something, but I was scared."
"I wouldn't have been able to help either," April assured her. There was a pause. "This is never gonna be over, is it?"
"We're never going to get home. The Doctor doesn't believe where we're from, and even if he does figure it out, all the parallel worlds are sealed off. Not even a signal could get through—remember the Doctor's connection breaking off?"
"Well…what if he's right?" Harriet asked.
"He's not—of course he's not! You remember your past just as clearly as I do!"
"I'm not the Time Lord who's experienced with this. I mean, all of Classic Who and a good portion of the expanded universe, but he's gone to the Time Lord Academy."
"And he's not the one who lived our lives," April said. "I could tell if my life was a fake."
"And he is probably wrong," Harriet said. "Still…there's a chance. That there's no home to go back to."
"There is," April insisted.
"The dimension cannon," Harriet reminded her. "If you're—we're—right and we can convince him by then…"
"Two seasons, though?" April asked. "There's no way we can survive that long."
"Yes, we can," Harriet insisted. "The Doctor managed it. Martha managed it, even if she wasn't travelling with the Doctor half that time."
"Maybe UNIT would be safer than here." April closed her eyes for a moment, exhausted.
"You should sleep while you can," Harriet suggested. April yawned.
"I'm not tired." Harriet just looked at her, and after a moment she nodded. April went upstairs to get a mattress, unwilling to sleep alone where the Carrionites could get her. Harriet helped her drag it downstairs. Both girls lay on it, watching as Martha and another patron fell asleep on mattresses of their own and Shakespeare, the innkeeper, and the remaining patron watched the doors and windows for any sign of attack. The Doctor was busy assembling some sort of device that he insisted would keep the Carrionites from teleporting in.
Slowly, April closed her eyes, and this time, sleep came easily.
April was being chased by a demon. It was blurry, because she had lost her glasses. But then she reached up to touch her face and found them there.
She spun around and the demon twisted into focus. It was a Carrionite, but she called it a Dalek, and when it opened its mouth, it said "EXTERMINATE!"
And April realized that her vision was blurry again. Somehow, she knew what it meant—she was becoming a Carrionite-Dalek. Then the Doctor was there, looking at her, his eyes sad and disappointed. "You are a good Dalek," he said, only in a Dalek voice, and then she knew it was happening to him too.
The Carrionite cackled, and April ran, only the streets were packed with orphans and if she touched them, they'd die. She couldn't let that happen, so she froze, and the Carrionite caught up to her. "You're not playing the game right," one of the street kids said, and when she turned around, she saw a hideous creature, dripping with slime and sewage.
"Watch the water," the Doctor said, holding out his hand, and she took it. Suddenly April was falling, falling through the sewers, the Dalek sewers, and she knew it would take fourteen years to get out.
Slowly, she struggled to her feet, but there was a voice in the dark. "They hurt poor Peter," April heard it say. "And then they snapped poor Peter's wits!" Lilith began to cackle in the distance, only it was the Doctor that came out of the shadows, his face morphing into the visage of a Carrionite.
"I name thee Carrionite!" She cried, but even before she finished, she knew it wouldn't work.
Then she was back on the street and the slimy street kid turned to her. "The power of a name only works once." And she was so angry, so very angry, and her face turned into that of a Carrionite too.
She leapt towards the creature, and the next thing she knew the creature was back to a normal street kid, bleeding on the ground. Except April would recognize that round face, that reddish hair, those wide blue eyes anywhere. This was her younger self. "You killed me," little April said. "You killed me dead."
April ran, the sewers around her morphing into darkness. Something was chasing her, through the tunnels underneath the ground, something dark and ancient and evil. It was behind her, right behind her, breathing down the back of her neck.
She spun around, but it was gone. And in its place was the TARDIS. Except instead of the normal writing on the sign, there were four words. "The Storm is Coming." April wrenched open the door, but the inside of the box was only filled with shadows. And it was very much the same size on the inside as the outside.
"You got it wrong!" Someone shouted. April spun around to see Harriet, Harriet with one of the Dalek eyestalks sticking out of her forehead. Running towards her, April found herself only getting farther and farther away as the darkness engulfed her friend. And then it came for her, ravenous, eating away at everything, corrosive even to the stone walls that she somehow knew had stood there for millenia.
And then April was in the void, standing on a black plain of nothingness that extended forever and always and everywhere. "Thou art but a pawn for a single day," April heard someone say. She twirled around, trying to find the source of the voice, but no matter where she looked it always seemed to be behind her. "A dolly for the puppeteer to play."
"Please!" April called out.
"And do my will till the sun doth set," the voice continued.
"Someone, help me!" April called out. "Harriet! Mom! Doctor! Doctor, please help, I'm here, please!"
"A simple wooden marionette."
And then April turned around to see Lilith, her face smooth and beautiful, holding her grotesque wooden doll, complete with one of her hairs on top.
I forgot, April thought. No, no, no, I forgot, I left the hair there, I forgot, I forgot, I forgot!
The Carrionite smiled. "Sleep now," Lilith said softly, and April was frozen in place. "It's only a dream." Then she left, leaving April alone in the dark.
She tried to open her mouth to call out, but she was frozen in place, unable to even open her eyes.
Wake up, wake up! April told herself urgently. But she couldn't. Please, she called out in her head. What's happening to me?
There was no answer, only the dark.
And then her eyes snapped open, and April felt herself move.