𝟘𝟚𝟟 ▹ 𝕊𝕚𝕝𝕖𝕟𝕔𝕖 𝕚𝕟 𝕥𝕙𝕖 𝕃𝕚𝕓𝕣𝕒𝕣𝕪 (ℙ𝕒𝕣𝕥 𝟚)
THE DOCTOR IS USING his Sonic Screwdriver on the security camera, Violet receiving the readings from his Screwdriver with her Sonic Watch. “Nice door skills, Violet,” the Time Lord appreciates.
“Yeah, well, you know, boyfriends and girlfriends,” Violet says half-jokingly, the pain evident in her voice. “Sometimes you need the element of surprise.”
“What was that? What was after us?” Donna demands. “I mean, did we just run away from a power cut?”
“Possibly,” the Doctor says, not expanding on his answer, or answering Donna’s other questions.
“Are we safe here?”
“Of course we’re safe. There’s a little shop.”
A sign on the wall says ‘The Shop’, and ‘Entrance This Way’. The Doctor gets the camera open, and words scroll across a little panel on the camera. ‘No, stop it. No. No.’, it reads, and that makes Violet frown in confusion.
“Ooo, I’m sorry. I really am. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry,” the Doctor apologises. “It’s alive.”
“You said it was a security camera,” Donna says.
“It is. It’s an alive one.”
More words scroll across the panel. ‘Others are coming. The Library is breached. Others are coming.’
“Others?” Donna cries. “What’s it mean, others?” Donna goes to a Node. “Excuse me. What does it mean, others?”
“That’s barely more than a speak your weight machine, it can’t help you,” Violet sighs.
“So why’s it got a face?”
“This flesh aspect was donated by Mark Chambers on the occasion of his death,” the node explains in a monotone voice.
Donna’s eyes widen in horror. “It’s a real face?”
“It has been actualised individually for you from the many facial aspects saved to our extensive flesh banks. Please enjoy.”
“It chose me a dead face it thought I’d like? That statue’s got a real dead person’s face on it.”
“It’s the 51st Century,” the Doctor sighs. “That’s basically like donating a park bench.”
“It’s donating a face!” Donna screeches, backing away from the node.
“No, wait, no.” The Doctor grabs Donna as she backs away.
“Oi,” she warns. “Hands.”
“The shadow. Look.”
“What about it?”
“Count the shadows,” Violet reminds the woman, her own eyes pinned on the darkness.
“One. There, counted it. One shadow,” Donna sasses.
“Yeah, but what’s casting it?” the Doctor asks.
It is a triangular shadow, but there’s nothing around to be casting it. Violet can’t help but smile slightly as the Doctor lets out an exclamation as the light in the adjoining corridor starts going out. He explains to Donna how The Library runs on fission cells that will outburn the sun, and that it’s not actually dark.
“We need to get back to the TARDIS,” Violet warns.
“Why?” Donna asks, worry beginning to rise in her voice.
The Doctor has a grim expression. “Because that shadow hasn’t gone; it’s moved.”
“Reminder: The Library has been breached. Others are coming,” the Node recites. “Reminder: The Library has been breached. Others are coming. Reminder: The Library has been breached...”
Before Violet, the Doctor and Donna can get back to the TARDIS, a door is blown open in a flash of bright light, and six space-suited figures enter. The leader adjusts her polarising filter so they can see her face. Violet goes completely still and she feels tears sting her eyes, a smile working its way onto her face as the other blonde-haired woman smiles.
“Hello, sweetie,” River greets.
“Get out,” the Doctor barks. “All of you. Turn around, get back in your rocket and fly away. Tell your grandchildren you came to The Library and lived. They won’t believe you.”
“Pop your helmets, everyone. We’ve got breathers.”
“How do you know they’re not androids?” a woman asks.
“Because I’ve dated androids. They’re rubbish.”
A man speaks. “Who is this? You said we were the only expedition. I paid for exclusives.”
“I lied, I’m always lying,” River tells the man. “Bound to be others.”
“Miss Evangelista, I want to see the contracts.”
“You came through the north door, yeah? How was that, much damage?”
“Please, just leave. I’m asking you seriously and properly, just leave,” the Doctor pleads. “Hang on. Did you say expedition?”
“My expedition,” the man says. “I funded it.”
“Oh, you’re not, are you? Tell me you’re not archaeologists.”
“Got a problem with archaeologists?” the blonde with wild hair sasses.
“I’m a time traveler,” the brunet man retorts. “I point and laugh at archaeologists.”
“Ah. Professor River Song, archaeologist.”
Violet bursts out a sharp laugh, clapping her hands over her mouth as she tries to stifle her laughter. River looks over at the younger girl and winks.
“River Song, lovely name,” the Doctor says, barely registering the name. “As you’re leaving, and you’re leaving now, you need to set up a quarantine beacon. Code wall the planet, the whole planet. Nobody comes here, not ever again. Not one living thing, not here, not ever. Stop right there. What’s your name?”
“Anita,” the second woman who spoke says.
“Anita, stay out of the shadows. Not a foot, not a finger in the shadows till you’re safely back in your ship. Goes for all of you. Stay in the light. Find a nice, bright spot and just stand. If you understand me, look very, very scared. No, bit more scared than that. Okay, that’ll do for now. You. Who are you?”
“Er, Dave,” another man says.
“Oh, well, Other Dave, because that’s Proper Dave the pilot, he was the first Dave, so when we-”
“Other Dave, the way you came, does it look the same as before?”
“Yeah. Oh, it’s a bit darker.”
“How much darker?”
“Oh, like I could see where we came through just like a moment ago. I can’t now.”
“Seal up this door. We’ll find another way out.”
“We’re not looking for a way out,” the first man growls. “Miss Evangelista?”
“I’m Mister Lux’s personal everything,” a young girl greets, stepping forward with pieces of paper in her hands. “You need to sign these contracts agreeing that your individual experience inside The Library are the intellectual property of the Felman Lux Corporation.”
“Right, give it here,” the Doctor says, Violet nodding in agreement.
“Yeah, lovely,” Donna agrees. “Thanks.”
The Doctor, Violet and Donna tear up the contracts, and River smiles in amusement.
“My family built this Library,” the man, Lux, informs. “I have rights.”
“You have a mouth that won’t stop,” River sighs at the man before turning back to the Doctor and Violet. “You think there’s danger here?”
“Something came to this Library and killed everything in it,” Violet says.
“Killed a whole world,” the Doctor agrees. “Danger? Could be.”
“That was a hundred years ago. The Library’s been silent for a hundred years. Whatever came here’s long dead.”
“Bet your life?”
“Always,” both Violet and River reply with matching smiles.
“What are you doing?” Lux demands.
“He said seal the door,” Other Dave informs.
“Torch,” the Doctor orders.
“You’re taking orders from him?” Lux asks.
“Spooky, isn’t it?”
The Doctor takes Lux’s torch and shines it into the far recesses of the round room. “Almost every species in the universe has an irrational fear of the dark.”
“But they’re wrong, because it’s not irrational,” Violet tells the archaeologists. “It’s Vashta Nerada.”
“What’s Vashta Nerada?” Donna wonders.
“It’s what’s in the dark. It’s what’s always in the dark,” the Doctor explains. “Lights! That’s what we need, lights. You got lights?”
“What for?” River asks.
“Form a circle. Safe area. Big as you can, lights pointing out.”
“Oi. Do as he says.”
Lux gives River a confused look. “You’re not listening to this man?”
“Apparently I am,” River snaps back at Lux. “Anita, unpack the lights. Other Dave, make sure the door’s secure, then help Anita. Mister Lux, put your helmet back on, block the visor. Proper Dave, find an active terminal. I want you to access the library database. See what you can find about what happened here a hundred years ago.” She smiles widely at the Doctor and Violet. “Pretty boy and cute girl, you’re with me. Step into my office.”
“Professor Song, why am I the only one wearing my helmet?”
“I don’t fancy you.”
The Doctor goes over to Dave at the terminal. “Probably. I can help you.”
“Pretty boy,” River calls, making Violet laugh. “With me, I said.”
“Oh, I’m pretty boy?”
“Yes,” Donna says quickly and then pauses. “Ooo, that came out a bit quick.”
“Don’t let your shadows cross. Seriously, don’t even let them touch. Any of them could be infected.”
“How can a shadow be infected?” Other Dave asks.
Violet listens to Other Dave and Anita shoot down Miss Evangelista’s offers to help, and she fights the urge to bash their heads together. She hears how she apparently “couldn’t tell the difference between the escape pod and the bathroom” according to Anita, and Violet’s harsh breath hisses out through her clenched teeth. Evangelista moves over to where Lux stands and talks with her boss. River takes a battered book from her backpack. Its cover is blue with eight squares, and more than just a familiar book.
“Thanks,” River says, eyes moving over the pages as she flicks through the book.
“For what?” the Doctor asks.
“The usual. For coming when I call.”
“Oh, that was you?”
“You’re doing a very good job, acting like you don’t know me. I’m assuming there’s a reason.”
“A fairly good one, actually.”
Violet’s stomach falls. “River, hold on.”
“Okay, shall we do diaries, then? Where are we this time? Er, going by your face, I’d say it’s early days for you, yeah? So, er, crash of the Byzantium. Have we done that yet?” River searches the Doctor’s eyes. “Obviously ringing no bells. Right. Oh, picnic at Asgard. Have we done Asgard yet? Obviously not. Blimey, very early days, then.” She flips back more pages. “Whoo, life with a time traveler. Never knew it could be such hard work. Look at you. Oh, you’re young.”
“I’m really not, you know,” the Doctor replies.
“No, but you are. Your eyes. You’re younger than I’ve ever seen you.”
“You’ve seen me before, then?”
“Doctor, please tell me you know who I am.”
“Who are you?”
Violet watches as River’s heart shatters and she hurries over to the other woman, giving her a comforting hug.
Brng, brng. Brng, brng.
“Sorry, that was me,” Other Dave apologises. “Trying to get through into the security protocols. I seem to have set something off. What is that? Is that an alarm?”
“Doctor?” Donna calls. “Doctor, that sounds like...”
“It is,” the Time Lord replies. “It’s a phone.”