"But why call it a duck pond when there aren't any ducks?" the Doctor said. "Why call it a spaceship when it doesn't ship through space?"
He took his eyes out from under Amy's sheets.
"Anything?" Amy asked, squeezing her eyes shut in the bed trying not to think about the pain and the Doctor froze.
"Let's not go there," he said.
"Let's go somewhere else. Let's return to the late 1880's and the only man on the planet rejoicing the fact time and space were spilling over. Every cloud has a silver lining, I suppose."
Why's it taking so long?
It had been an unpleasant visual looking at the progress of her leg. He was apprehensive about telling her more and told her not to look until he said so.
"Time energy is seeping through the cracks and I can absorb it and use it as fuel," Jack said. The batteries of his time vortex manipulator went wonky three decades back after one jump too many and that kind of energy doesn't come by often, especially in 19th century Britain.
Unless you live atop a rift in time and space in Wales and even then there's no guarantees. There's always more risk than reward. But anyway, Jack had a plan. A rather selfish plan that basically involved finding me. Something he had been trying to do for the past thirty years.
Wait, so how old is Jack?
When ever did age become an issue for you? He's 60. Possibly. There's a lot we don't know about Captain Jack Harkness. He's just a big a mystery as Nemo. It's a whole department of mysteries at the Time Agency. All shadows and misdirection.
But let's get back to the general. He has another good scene left in him. I reckon he was standing in awe of the technology displayed in the Machinery Hall at the World Fair.
Created by the finest minds in his time, these were some of the greatest and wackiest inventions produced by pure human ingenuity. Things that shouldn't work, things that can't possibly have been thought of sober but there they were!
"All of this will be lost within the hour if you don't come through," the general spoke to Jack. "I've spoken to your Torchwood. They were right about one thing, though. When it comes to the world there are no borders or boundaries. Through co-operation we will succeed. Alone we fail."
I imagine it must've been hard for this patriottic man to say those words. With every passing century the world of humankind would expand. First it's families and then tribes, then it's communities, villages, towns which turn into cities. Provinces connect to become countries which will evolve into nations. Nations work together to form a connected continent and then the world becomes one. If they want to be. If mankind puts the effort into it and stops being petty. Then there's an entire universe out there. This is only the beginning.
"The whole is always greater than the sum of its parts," Jack said. "Tricky times, these. This century is reaching its end and a new era is coming. There'll be unification one day, but it'll be a long and hard road, full of hardships and death. But one day the human race will stand together as they face the universe."
"Unification..." the general repeated. What an unimaginable, terrifying concept to a man in such primitive times, but the seed was now planted. An idea that could grow into something far bigger than man one day.
Of course time isn't set in stone. Everything this World Fair represented could be wiped out in a single second. The human race will have always and never have existed. And the Silurians. Even metal dogs.
"Maybe those fifty people up there in space are better off," the general concluded. Oh, you really are a depressing lot, aren't you?
"Don't worry, sir," Jack said. "We're going to get them back."
You entered thinking you were interrupting but your timing was spot on. "Cab for Captain Harkness."
"Gotta go," Jack said. "History's waiting to be written. Let's write it together."
The general hesitated.
"Good luck, Captain," the general said and he offered Jack a hand. Jack understood the gesture.
There are some things you can't control. Some things you have to let go.
The fate of the world now rested on his shoulders.
The vortex manipulator had stuffed itself with pure temporal energy once again and was primed for another hop. Your very atoms were sore after two jumps but you had one more to go.
"Does it always hurt like this?" you asked Jack.
"Oh, yes," he said, crunching his neck muscles. You handed him back the vortex manipulator and he strapped the device wrapped in leather around his wrist.
You watched the hole in time and space burning bright in the fading afternoon sky one last time before committing to the jump. "Oh, this better be worth it."
Jack explained how he was able to follow the trail left behind by the spaceship that took the Eiffel Tower. What he didn't explain were the risks.
"Good luck," Jack spoke and he must've been terrified.
Then there was a final flash.
There were easier options, certainly. Like finding a past or future version of me to help or sneaking aboard the Tower in the past before it had been stolen. But there were risks there (as Jack knew) and he had already complicated things enough.
You always have to be careful messing with temporal mechanics. There were once creatures that roamed the Varnacious Morrow in the dawn of time: the transcendent changelings of the Pantheon of Discord that fed off the energy of potential history and unrealized realities and Reapers that feasted on paradoxes and temporal anomalies. They found tricks to alter the past, change reality and soak up the energy of billions of years of history unwritten.
What, the Weeping Angels?
Who knows? They're more myth now than memory, Discord disbanded or the undo-ers undone. They only exist in whispers nowadays at the edges of history; having been tricked by their own devices.
That's what you get for trying to control the universe. It bites.
But the stories did make me wonder: what if it were them? This had the Trickster written all over it and it was worth a shot. I faced up and started shouting at whoever might be listening in.
"You can come out now!" I yelled and the crowd of onlookers, trembling in fear at the mayesty of the universe outside and clinging to the inside of the Tower afraid of falling out, started staring at me. That was good. Perhaps they might learn a thing or two.
"I know you're there! Listening, watching...that's what you always do. Manipulating from the shadows! Whoever you are! Stop sneaking about and show yourself! Isn't it about time you started gloating and twirling your moustache? Or something? Come on! What are you afraid of? No-one'll know. It's just you...and me."
The fifty hostages held their breath as if at any moment they were expecting a giant foot to come down from the ceiling and crush me like a bug.
But there were no bugs today and no transcendent beings. That was a relief. Of course, absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence but I wasn't exactly going to strain myself to fight imaginary monsters battling real pirates. Where had they gone off too anyway?
Then I realized how embarassing it had become. Nothing had happened. So I turned on the spot and changed the subject. It's what I do best.
"Why bother with recruitment anyway? What'd they want us for? Swab the decks? Talk in funny voices? Where have they gone anyway?"
"Back to their ship, most likely," the American in the cowboy hat said. "They don't even have to bother looking out for us. I mean, even if we manage to escape, where could we go? We're in space, for god's sake!"
I watched the man spit on the ground and pull up his belt. He was a neatly dressed cowboy, streaks of grey in his moustache and goatee. It was like he had been primed for a Wild West Show.
"Excellent," I realized and I moved on to the next one hurled up on the floor in his travelling coat. "And who might you be?"
"My name is of no importance," the man said contrite.
"Serbian, am I right?" I said to him. The look he shot me was enough to confirm my powerful methods of deduction. I heard a thick accent underneath his struggling English, but he wasn't new to the language. It was his shyness that made him a difficult speaker.
Also he had the name Nikola Tesla written on the inside of his travelling coat.
I counted the scientists among the civilians. They were sticking out from the crowd like molecules in a field of ions.
"We're trapped here and théy know it," I concluded and I started pacing. It helps me think.
"They're just rubbing our faces in it. They control the air, they control the gravity, they control our fates, but there's one thing they didn't account for though. One single fatal mistake in their arrogance..."
"What's that?" the cowboy asked.
I love it when they play right into my hand.
"I'm the Doctor and people always seem to make the mistake of underestimating me."
"But we are helpless!" Simon de Leeuw cried out. He finally scraped up the courage to stand up from the crouching crowd and address me. "You just said so yourself!"
"I said we're trapped. Not helpless. Think about it. No seriously, do just that. Think.
They can control the air, the ship, the gravity, but there's one thing they can't control and that's your thoughts. So think!"
"What thought would have us saved from this predicament, Doctor?" Nikola asked.
"Do I even need to tell you? Look at yourself! The incredible, indomitable, ingenious human race. Look at where you're standing. One of the greatest achievements in human engineering. An icon of everything you're capable of doing if you just put your minds to it. Doesn't matter what nationality, religion or ideology you have. You're humans! You're Earthlings! All for one and one for all!
"Don't you know who you are? You're Buffalo Bill, Nikola Tesla, Claude Debussy, Vilhelm Bjerknes and Simon de Leeuw! And you're brilliant! Every single one of you! Need I say more?"
The human race can achieve so much greatness. All it takes for them to realize that is a great, big kick up their backside once in a while and a little bit of inspiration.
You do your best work under stress. It's why wars have produced the greatest inventions on your planet. And sometimes the most unlikely idea comes from the most unexpected places...
"But we have nothing!" the Norwegian physicist Vilhelm spoke. "Nothing to work with! How'd you expect us to find a way back to Earth when we have nothing!"
"Ah," I said and I rushed to the far end of the platform and back again carrying along a mysterious load. "But we have this!"
It was the object the pirates had stolen from the warehouse basement and had left behind in their arrogance. The dead heart that used to belong and power the ship whose skeleton we were now standing in. It was time to reunite the two.
Then a thought hit me as I carried the dead generator over to the scientists and civilians whose attention I captivated.
I unveiled the object that had been covered in a black sheet all this time and of which I had no idea what it might be, but it only lead to more questions.
It was a glass box with golden edges, like frames. I found out that despite its size it weighed so little I could carry it with one hand, but of course I wouldn't do that. I've been known to break things.
"It's empty! An empty box!" Buffalo Bill spoke and I looked closer at the contents of the box.
There was a slight buzz about it, an echo of life perhaps, or power, a shimmer in the glass that suggested unnatural composition. I realized it wasn't going to be easily broken. If the intention was to break it.
"No, there's something inside it," I said and I pointed at the bottom of the box. I lifted it up so I could look at the bottom. It was a lifeless shard of glass that rattled around inside it when I shook it.
Don't shake the box!
I was expecting something a little more impressive, something the troops could rally behind, and found myself a little bit disappointed, until I remembered the age old truth:
Appearances can be deceiving.
I set the sonic screwdriver to setting 99 and aimed it at the box I had just set down. With a flick of a switch and a buzz of a green light the expected unexpected happened. The shard of glass started glowing, started floating towards the centre of the glass box and shooting lightning bolts at its edges.
Then I stopped and the glowing died again. An echo of life or a resurrection? A reawakening? What had I done? The shard fell into its original position( intact I might say). Why did I stop?
I suddenly realized the ugly truth and I looked back at my ragtag band of fellow travellers. I saw the bigger picture now and knew the role the shard of glass would play in this story. I recognised it for what it was.
This would become a choice a hundred times worse than the captain posed. This was torture.
"It's either them or you," I gasped, knowing the truth. It was the only thing I managed to say before my breath departed from my body leaving me utterly speechless.
That tiny shard within the box was the cause of everything that's been happening and will happen on Earth.
I did it. It was me.
But just a little earlier, Jack and you rematerialized inside a dark abode. The air was cold and tinny.
Your sudden presence triggered lights overhead to shine into the darkness and to your surprise that darkness seemed to go on forever. An expansive nothingness with only a few lights shining down upon the metal floor in puddles.
"Where are we?" you asked, fixing the bones of your body back into their place.
Jack found a round window with blue glass. From there you could see the Eiffel Tower floating beneath you in a giant bubble. The ship you were on and the cargo it was dragging behind it were drifting in the orbit of a dwarf planet and its four moons.
"Pluto," Jack answered and cocked his gun.