Daleks in Manhattan pt 1
She dreamed of fine French food, sipping wine with her handsome Time Lord while gazing at the fully lit Eiffel Tower. The night they landed on was perfect, not overly cool but refreshing compared to the atmosphere of New New York. They strolled around the streets of Paris, and she had listened to him ramble off the city’s history happily. It was perfect, truly perfect. And what made the dream better was that it was more than that. Rose was remembering.
They hadn’t been out more than a few hours, returning to the TARDIS well before Martha would wake up. They stayed in the console room, snuggling together on the jumpseat, getting in a few playful, tender kisses before the affects from the wine made Rose want nothing more than to take a quick kip. She fell asleep on the Doctor’s shoulder, or at least that’s what she thought until she stirred awake and found herself looking at his empty side of the bed.
“Oh good, you’re awake.” His voice came from the doorway, and she sat up in the bed. “I was hoping you weren’t going to be asleep too much longer, the TARDIS alerted me that Martha will be waking up soon.” She watched the Doctor move toward her, cup of tea in hand and changed into the blue suit that he seemed to fancy these days.
She took the mug gratefully, scooting a little to make room for him to sit down next to her.
“How long have I been out?” Rose asked, blowing on the steaming hot liquid before taking a sip.
“Only a couple hours.” He replied, laying back against the pillows with his hands behind his head. “Sorry about moving you, I didn’t want you to get a neck cramp.” He said, looking to the bed briefly.
She grinned, noting how he seemed to have a hard time looking her in the eye. “So,” She said, looking into the milky-brown liquid. “I already know what you’re going to suggest.”
“You do?” He asked curiously, narrowing his gaze in thought.
She nodded with a sad grin. “So where were you planning on taking her?”
The Doctor’s eyebrows hit his hairline, and he seemed genuinely taken aback. “I thought we could take her to New York.” He said with a bit of surprise in his voice. “Your Earth’s New York.” He clarified. “Our last trip, promise.”
Rose smirked, shaking her head, looking around the room. “So what was supposed to be my last trip?” She asked. “Was it before or after I tried to save my father?”
“I never had a last trip planned for you.” He replied immediately. “I don’t intend to. Ever.” He said with conviction that made Rose give him a genuine half smile. “But since you already figured me out,” He said, leaping off the bed and on to his feet in that inhuman way he could move, and stuck a hand out to help her up. “Let’s get back to the console room and wait for her. Get the Old girl ready for when Martha is.”
“Can I drive?” Rose asked as he helped her to her feet.
“No,” He said immediately before darting out her bedroom. Or was it more their bedroom now? In retrospect they had shared it for over a month, so maybe it wasn’t just her space anymore. Rose didn’t mind at all if that happened to be the case.
She was much slower getting to the console room, returning to where she was on the jumpseat before falling asleep. Sitting Lotus style, she sipped her tea as she watched the Doctor practically dance around the console.
“What are you doing?” She asked him.
He paused, looking at her like was obvious. “Getting ready.” He replied.
“You make it look like you need to do the little jog ‘round her.” Rose realized, smirking as she lifted the cup to hide her grin.
“Oi, no backseat piloting.” He said, continuing on and not noticing Martha entering the room behind him. And Martha, it seemed, didn’t notice Rose.
Taking in the sight of their companion watching the Doctor adoringly made Rose blush. She imagined she probably looked like that often with her first Doctor. Enough that Jack frequently teased her about it. And while Martha was older than Rose in a few ways, she felt eons more mature than the almost-doctor in that moment despite the jealous snarl that tried to pull at her lips.
“Morning, Martha Jones.” The Doctor said as he finished his lap around the console with flourish, coming to a stop in front of Martha with a manic grin and his hands in his pockets. “Sleep well?” He asked.
“Seems the best sleep I’ve had in a while has been on this ship.” She admitted.
“Excellent, well, if you’re ready it’s off to our next destination.” He said, bolting to the switch. “Are you?” He asked her again.
“Incredibly,” Martha said, her grin stretched as far as it could go.
The Doctor flicked the switch, and the TARDIS rocked gently about before landing with a shudder.
“Where are?” Martha asked, looking between the doors and the Doctors.
“Go have a look.” He said, and Martha didn’t need to be told twice.
He grabbed his long coat from the rail, throwing it on over his shoulders and turned to Rose expectantly.
She grinned, setting her nearly empty cup on the jumpseat before hopping up. She went to grab the hooded jumper she had worn yesterday only to find the black garment now felt like leather on her palm. The TARDIS must have changed out her jacket while they were down in the bedroom.
She sent a mental thanks to the ship who hummed happily in reply as Rose pulled on the jacket and joined the Doctor. He grinned contentedly before taking her hand and leading her outside.
“Where are we?” Martha asked as they joined her.
Maybe it was obvious because the Doctor had told her the plan, but Rose couldn’t help but snort at Martha for simply not turning around. Because how could anyone not sense something incredibly tall and looming statue at their back?
“Smell that Atlantic breeze,” The Doctor said pointedly, taking a deep breath. When Martha didn’t seem to catch on, he asked, “Martha, have you met my friend?” And gestured behind them.
She finally looked up behind them.
“Is that?” She asked, hands over her mouth.
No, it’s a replica, Rose thought to herself. Welcome to New, New, New York. But that was rude, even just as a thought, and Rose swallowed back the guilt before anyone could even pick up on it.
“Oh my god, that’s the statue of Liberty.” Martha stated the obvious.
“Gateway to the New World,” The Doctor said. “’Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to break free.’”
“That’s so brilliant.” Martha exclaimed. “I’ve always wanted to go to New York. I mean, the real New York. Has Rose …” At the mention of her name, Rose leaned around the Doctor, and Martha noticed her apparently for the first time. “Oh, didn’t see you there.” She said with a hint of disappointment in her voice. “I take it you’ve been here before then.”
“No,” Rose shook her head. “First time in the original for me too.” She said.
“May be the original New York, but New York was not its original name. Started out as New Amsterdam, but that wouldn’t have been quite as catchy. Couldn’t write a song about it, that’s for sure. But here it is, girls, the genuine article.” He walked toward the water’s edge, pulling Rose along. She couldn’t help but notice it was the longest they’d held hands in Martha’s presence since her arrival.
“So are we just going to take in the skyline from here?” Martha asked, holding herself tightly. “Or are we actually going into the city?”
“To the city, of course” The Doctor replied. “Catch the Ellis Island ferry over and take in the sights.”
“Couldn’t just land the TARDIS over there?” Rose asked, arching a brow.
“Oh, what would be the fun in that?” He asked her, looking down at her with a grin. “People who came to New York to start a new life passed through Ellis Island before getting to the main city.”
“So this is where you’re leaving me, then?” Rose teased, looking up at him with his favorite grin.
“Don’t even joke about that.” He said sternly with a grin. “Come on, ferry’s this way.”
The Doctor was right, where would have been the fun in simply hopping in the TARDIS and landing somewhere on the island of Manhattan? Then there would be no wind on Rose’s face, blowing back her hair and making her feel invigorated. And when they arrived, there would be no rides in a cab from what had to be before the nineteen fifties to a dinner somewhere uptown.
“When did you get money?” Rose asked as the three of them were left with menus by their waitress.
“Well,” The Doctor said, drawing out the word. “I’ve been in these parts before. Can’t exactly sonic a cash point, or use psychic paper as credit so the last time I was here I used it to withdraw a rather obscene amount of money from the bank. Kinda keep it tucked away in the TARDIS for times like this. And since I was already planning this to be our next stop.”
“Man keeps American cash in the TARDIS but still owes me ten quid for a bet made over a year ago.” Rose mumbled, peeking at him across the table from behind the menu. He only smiled and shook his head.
“When are we anyway?” Martha asked quietly, leaning into him so her head was practically on his shoulder.
“Good question.” The Doctor said, furrowing his brow. “I noticed the Empire State building still had a couple floors to go, so we’re probably around the nineteen thirties.” He said, turning toward Martha but didn’t seem surprised to find her so close.
Rose set down her menu, already aware that she was going to be getting chips, then got on her knees to look in the booth behind them.
It was empty except some empty coffee cups, a couple plates with crumbs on it, and a newspaper on the bench. Adjusting her position, she bent over the bench to snatch the paper off the red vinyl seat. She turned and flopped back down into the seat in one fluid motion, handing the paper over to the Doctor who instantly avoided eye contact and scratched at his side burn. He took the paper with a throat clear, pulling Martha’s attention from the menu.
“November 1st, 1930,” She read over the Doctor’s shoulder before smiling up at him. “Oh, you’re good.”
When the Doctor didn’t give a smug response, and his brow furrowed, Rose instantly worried. “What’s wrong?” She asked him.
“I wasn’t really planning on us staying very long,” He said, turning the paper headline out for the girls to see. “But I think we may just have to.”
In big, bold black letters along the top it read Hooverville Mystery Deepens.
“What’s Hooverville?” Rose asked.
“You guys ready to order?” Their waitress came back around with a cheerful smile, pen and pad ready.
“May I get the breakfast platter, please?” Martha said to the waitress with a smile.
She nodded, jotting it down then looking to Rose. “Just chips, errr.” She said.
“Don’t worry hun, we get you English in ‘ere enough for me to know what ya mean.” She said with a smile and jotted it down. “Whatta ‘bout you, handsome?” She said, turning to the Doctor.
“Oh, I’m good, thanks.” He said, barely looking up from the paper to smile at her.
The waitress simply nodded and went back to the kitchen.
“So what is Hooverville?” Martha asked, now that they were alone again.
The Doctor took a deep breath, setting the paper down. “Herbert Hoover, 31st President of the United States, came to power a year ago. Up ‘til then New York was a boom town, the Roaring Twenties, and then ….”
“The Wall Street crash,” Martha interrupted the lecture. “That was 1929, yeah?”
He nodded with a grin. “Yeah. Whole economy wiped out overnight. Thousands of people unemployed. Suddenly the huddled masses doubled in number with nowhere to go.”
“What happened to them?” Rose asked, pushing back the unsettling feeling that crept along her skin.
“They built a city of sorts in the middle of central park.” He replied, his eyes falling on the paper in front of him.
“Always wanted to see Central park, me.” Rose said with as much cheer as she could muster, smiling for good measure. She glanced up, seeing the waitress coming around with their food. “Will have a bite and head on over, yeah?” She said, glancing at Martha who was too busy looking at the Doctor to notice anything else until her food was set in front of her.
At that, the conversation was put on hold.
The pictures Rose had seen of central park were always majestic, beautiful, and making her feel as though it was it’s own little world in the heart of the city it belonged to. Never had she considered how that would be true in the worst way.
Tents and little sheds were erected in such a way that it looked like an orderly community. Fire barrels were set up a little more randomly, but always off to the side in between the makeshift homes. Laundry hung on lines, and people moved about their daily lives. It reminded Rose of the middle ages, the way the lower class villagers lived, yet these folks all looked clean and relatively put together if not severely bundled to keep the cold off.
Life had never got this bad, but it was close. The amount of empathy it provoked tightened Rose’s throat, and she clutched on to the Doctor’s hand like it was a life line.
“I honestly didn’t believe you,” Martha said in disbelief. “Truly.”
“Ordinary people who lost their jobs,” The Doctor said, as they slowly entered the settlement. “Couldn’t pay the rent, and they lost everything. There are places like this all over America. You only come to Hooverville when there’s nowhere else to go.” He said, giving Rose a tiny tug and bringing her closer to him.
She rested her head on his arm, and not for the first time she wondered how much he actually knew of her life outside of what she told him.
“You thievin’ lowlife.” A man shouted, and scuffle broke out a little ways out of sight.
The three of them moved without hesitation along with the rest of the crowd to investigate. The two men kept shouting, getting in as man punches as the could while being pulled away from each other.
“Cut that out,” A tall, average looking man said as he stepped toward them. While he looked no better off than any of the others, he somehow carried the air of authority around him. At his words, people turned toward him, backing away from the two men hell bent on fighting. “I said, cut that out. Right now.” He repeated more fiercely, getting between the two men and pushing them apart.
“He stole my bread,” One said, pointing at the other who looked a touch younger than him.
The man in charge turned to the accused. “Did you take it?”
“I don’t know what happened, he just went crazy.” He replied, chest heaving with exertion and probably panic.
The other man lunged for him, but the ones who were holding him back before managed to grab him before he could restart the fight.
“That’s enough,” The man in charge warned before turning back to the accused. “Now think real careful before you lie to me.” He warned.
The younger of the two deflated instantly. “I’m starvin’, Solomon.” He finally admitted.
Solomon stuck out his hand, and the younger man pulled a loaf of bread out of his jacket and handed it over regretfully,
“We’re all starvin’,” Solomon reminded, breaking the loaf in half. He handed a half to each of the fighters, and while the younger looked relieved, the other looked disgruntled. Before he could say anything, Solomon continued. “No stealin’, no fightin’. You know the rules. Thirteen years ago, I fought in the Great War. A lot of did, and the only reason we got through was because we stuck together. No matter how bad things get, we still act like human beings. It’s all we got.”
With a slight nod, Solomon dismissed the men, and they along with the crowd returned to what they were doing before.
“Come on,” The Doctor whispered, and the three chased after Solomon, though he only went as far as a fire barrel to warm his hands. “I suppose that makes you the boss around here.” He said to Solomon who looked up in confusion.
“And, uh, who might you all be?” He asked, looking over the three of them.
“I’m Martha,” she introduced herself.
“I’m Rose,” She said.
“And I’m the Doctor.” He said without his usual cheer.
“A doctor?” Solomon snorted. “Well, we got stockbrokers, we got a lawyer, but you’re the first doctor. Neighbourhood gets classier by the day.”
“Not bad for what it is though.” Rose said, slipping her hand from the Doctor’s and standing next to Solomon. She warmed her hands along side him.
“We make due,” He nodded with a touch of pride. “Hundreds of people around these parts at any given time. But I’ll tell you what, Hooverville is truly equal society. Black, white, all the same. All starving.”
“The great humbler.” Rose nodded, and he laughed without humor, flashing her a smile.
“We welcome them all,” He said. “Men of the working class, men of upper class. All the same, here.”
“Any of one side disappear more than the other?” The Doctor asked, pulling the newspaper from the dinner our of his jacket, showing Solomon the headline.
The poor man’s shoulders slumped and all humor left his face. “No,” He shook his head. “Afraid not.”
“But men must come and go all the time, it’s not like anyone’s keeping a register.” The Doctor said as Solomon reached for the paper.
He held it in his hands like he was studying something precious. “This is different.” He said, shifting his gaze to the Doctor. “Someone takes them at night. We hear something, someone calls for help. By the time we get there, they’re gone like they vanished into thin air.” He explained.
“And you’re sure someone’s taking them?” The Doctor asked.
Solomon looked at him with disbelief, seeming ready to dismiss him.
“They leave their stuff behind don’t they?” Rose said, getting his attention.
“Why does that matter?” Martha asked, curious and not unkind.
Rose smiled thinly. “When you don’t have a lot, what you do got matters.” She said, keeping her gaze on Solomon.
He nodded, a thin smile of his own in place. “Your knife, blanket, you take it with you. Don’t leave bread uneaten or fire still burning.”
Without thinking, Rose reached up and worried her TARDIS key. The chain she wore it on was one of the only things she kept from her time with Jimmy. It wasn’t a gift from him, not in the least. It was the only thing she didn’t pawn to try to pay off their debt. Hardly worth much, it was the most expensive piece of jewelry she’d ever bought herself in her young life.
“Have you been to the police?” Martha asked, and Rose’s eyes snapped to her as her thoughts were broken.
“Yeah, we tried that,” Solomon said with the humorless grin of his. “Another deadbeat goes missing. Big deal.”
“So the question is: who’s taking them and for what?” The Doctor pondered, and for the first time a trace of hope colored Solomon’s face.
“Solomon,” A young man with a thick, southern accent called as he jogged toward them. “Mister Diagoras is here.” He said, pointing to the front of the settlement.
“Who’s that?” Rose asked as Solomon’s mood quickly deflated.
“A foreman for the Empire State Building project. Though these days you’d think he was King of Manhattan. Comes by here looking for cheap labor.” Solomon explained as he stepped away from the barrel.
“How long’s that been?” The Doctor asked, falling in step with Solomon as Martha and Rose followed behind them.
“Been a couple months.” Solomon replied, though they were starting to become part of the crowd gathering to hear out this Mister Diagoras out.
Rose came up beside the Doctor, lacing her hand in his and startling him for a moment. Martha came up to his other side, arms folded over her chest.
“I need volunteers,” Said the man at the front, flagged by lackeys. He reminded Rose of the mob bosses in those stupid movies Mickey made her watch all the time. Sure, the time period was right for him to be dressing like that, but it all seemed so cliche with the accent and the way he commanded power. “I got a little work for you, and you sure look like you can use the money.” He said with a grin. Rose scowled.
“What’s the money?” The young man who came to fetch Solomon asked.
“A dollar a day.” The idiot replied like he offering them the moon.
Everyone around them grumbled, and Rose couldn’t help but snort and roll her eyes along with them.
“What’s the work,” Solomon asked, more polite sounding than Rose surely would have been.
“A little trip down the sewers.” Diagoras replied. “Got a tunnel that collapsed needs clearing and fixing. Any takers?”
“A dollar a day?” Solomon repeated. “That’s slave wage. Men don’t always come back up, do they?” He challenged the mob-boss wanna be,
Diagoras’ simply shrugged. “Accidents happen.”
“What do you mean?” The Doctor asked, looking skeptical. “What sort of accidents.”
“You don’t need the work? Fine. Anybody else?” Diagoras brushed him off.
The Doctor turned down to Rose, smiling slightly as he gave her hand a squeeze. “What do you think, Shiver?” He asked her flirtatiously. “Might not be Paris, but ….”
“Always up for a lil’ adventure, there, Shake.” She said, tongue between her teeth as she grinned back.
At once they turned to face Diagoras and raised their hands.
He spotted them. “Enough with the questions.” He growled.
“Oh, no, no, no. We’re volunteering.” The Doctor clarified.
Martha’s hand shot up a second later, and she mumbled something to the Doctor Rose couldn’t hear. She noticed Solomon raising his hand as well, and looked around to see the only other volunteer was the young man who came to get him.
When no one else volunteered, Diagoras nodded. “Alright, let’s go.”
“Turn left,” Diagoras instructed gruffly as they five Hooverville volunteers entered the sewer with torches in hand. “Go about half a mile, follow tunnel 273. Fall’s right ahead of you, you can’t miss it.” He said with a smile that unsettled Rose.
“And when do we get our dollar,” The young man Rose now knew as Frank asked, sounding as suspicious as she was.”
“When you come back up.” Diagoras replied.
“And what if we don’t come back up?” The Doctor asked, hints of the storm starting to brew.
“Then I got no one to pay.” Diagoras replied, puffing out his chest a little.
“We’ll be back,” Solomon replied, starting to lead them down the tunnel.
“Let’s hope so,” Martha grumbled before following his lead. Rose waited, watching the Doctor stare down Diagoras who remained unflinching. Eventually he turned, putting his arm around Rose long enough to get them following the others.
“I’m sorry,” He said quietly after they were around the corner.
“For what?” Rose asked, smiling a bit to herself as she watched Frank and Martha getting on quite well in front of them. She looked up at the Doctor, giving him her full attention.
He glanced at her eyes a mix of the storm and genuine guilt. “I know what’s been going through your mind.” Rose absently reached for her temple and he shook his head. “Not like that. I know because I see it in your eyes. The way you worried your chain. Didn’t consider what being around all this would be like.”
“’S fine,” Rose said with a shrug as she shone her light around. “He’s the past, I try not to dwell on it.”
“Doesn’t mean it’s not nagging at you.”
“’S nothing, really.” She said, turning to look at him as they moved. “May’ve come close but I didn’t get this far. A night in a shelter before going back to Mom, ‘s all it was.”
“Rose,” He said nervously, rubbing the back of his neck. “If it hadn’t been for Jimmy leaving, you wouldn’t have been to that shelter. And, well, Jimmy ….” He was cut off when Martha yelped.
The Doctor and Rose moved to the front of the crowd, seeing Martha covering her mouth with both hands and staring at a glowing green blob on the sewer floor.
“Whoa,” The Doctor said, kneeling down beside it and setting his torch aside.
“What is that?” Rose asked, wrinkling her nose as she leaned over the Doctor’s shoulder and studied the odd thing.
“What ever it is, it’s gone off.” Martha replied, sounding like she was close to gagging.
“Must’ve seen worse than this working in the hospital?” Rose asked her almost teasingly.
“Nothing that putrid.” Martha replied as the Doctor scooped it up, bringing it close to his face. “And you’ve got to pick it up.” She cringed.
“Just don’t lick it, ‘kay?” Rose said, adding in a whisper. “Or else very slow will become not at all.”
The Doctor turned his head for her to see the utter disbelief on his face. “Even I have limits, Rose Tyler.” He said, his lips quirking in a smirk for just a beat before he looked back at the blob. “Can you shine your torch through it?” He asked. Rose nodded, pointing at it and taking in the thing with better lighting. “Composite organic matter.” He said. “Martha? Medical opinion?”
“It’s not human, I know that.” She replied, finally pulling her mouth away.
“It looks familiar.” Rose admitted, shaking her head. “Dunno why, but it’s just … it’s like I’ve seen it before.”
“I know,” the Doctor said thoughtfully. “And you know what else I know? We must be at least a half a mile in, and I don’t see any sign of a collapse. So why did mister Diagoras send us down here?”
“We’re way beyond half a mile.” Solomon supported the Doctor’s theory. “There’s no collapse.”
“That Diagoras bloke was lying?” Martha asked, fingering the collar of her jacket.
“Looks like it.” The Doctor replied.
“So why did he want people to come down here?” Frank asked nervously.
The Doctor looked to Rose. “Solomon,” he said, holding her gaze. “I think it’s time you took Frank and Martha back. Rose and I will be quicker on our own.”
“Why just you two?” Martha asked.
The sound of squealing halted any further discussion on the topic.
“What the hell was that?” Solomon asked as Rose and the Doctor straightened up, and he put the blob in his pocket.
They all waited, still as possible, straining to hear.
“Hello?” Frank called out, only to be shushed by Martha. “What if it’s one of the folk gone missing?” He asked in a whisper. “You’d be scared, half mad down here on your own.”
“Do you really think they’re still alive?” The Doctor asked, clearly thinking they were not.
“Heck, we ain’t seen no bodies down here. Maybe they just got lost.” Frank replied, his niavity enduring.
That squealing sound started again.
“It doesn’t even sound human,” Rose said as they all started to head toward it. Another echo of the squealing noise, sounding both closer and farther away, brought them to a halt a few feet from a split in the tunnel.
“Sounds like there’s more than one of ‘em.” Frank noted as the Doctor and Rose took a few steps closer to the split.
He seemed to strain to listen. “This way,” He said, taking Rose’s hand and starting to move again.
“No,” Solomon said, stopping them. “That way.” He shone his torch down the other corridor and illuminated a figure huddled on the ground, cowering as if it were scared. “Who are you?” Solomon asks the hunched figure.
After a quick squeeze, the Doctor let go of Rose’s hand and moved to the hunched figure. She took a couple of steps closer, stopping at Martha’s side, watching th Doctor give Frank a gentle nudge back as the young man tried to approach the figure. He spoke quietly to it, the calm an comforting tone of his voice reaching their ears but not the words.
“Do you know what he’s saying?” Martha asked her. Rose just shook her head, watching as the Doctor knelt down beside the figure, his torch light illuminating it.
What ever it was had the head of a pig. Martha gasped quietly, clutching on to Rose’s arm. As for Rose, her eyes merely bulged. Can’t say she was expecting that.
“Is, uh, that some kind of carnival mask?” Solomon asked, his voice shaky.
“No, it’s real.” The Doctor replied over his shoulder before looking back to pig man. He started speaking to it quietly again, not paying attention to them or anything around him.
Not even the shadows falling on the walls in front of him.
“Doctor, I think you better get back,” Martha suggested, taking a step toward him.
The light in the tunnel to their right dimmed, and Rose turned to see he silhouettes of what looked to be more pig men coming toward them in such a way that there would only be one way to go.
“Doctor!” She yelled, finally getting his attention. He looked behind him, his gaze passing over her as he took in what was coming from behind, then turned to the right.
“Good point,” he said, looking at the pig man in front of him. He stood and took a couple abrupt steps back, noticing the menacing look that came over the creatures eyes.
Slowly it got to his feet, the others closer than they seemed to be before as the Doctor slowly backed away. Everyone followed his lead. He looked around them, seeming to assess things, backing into the girls and causing them to sort of break apart.
“Well then,” He said, fumbling behind him until his hand caught Rose’s the way he had the very first time in the Henrick’s basement. “Everyone, basically … run.” He said, turning abruptly and pulling Rose down the corridor that was at their back.
As they ran they cam along another junction, and without a word, the Doctor turned right, glancing over his shoulder to make sure everyone was still with him.
“A ladder!” Rose cried out in elation, partially breathless as running in the small, dark space somehow made it more difficult to breath.
The Doctor let go of her hand and ran up ahead of them, pulling his sonic from his jacket to work on the sewer lid above. Rose looked back, hearing the Pig men coming toward them at unsettling rate while noticing Frank search the ground before picking up a rod of some kind. He tossed it, looking poised and ready to attach the creatures like they were baseballs.
“Rose,” She heard the Doctor yell.
“Frank, come on.” Rose tried to coax him.
“I’ll be right behind ya,” He replied with a gesture for her to move.
Hesitantly she did, moving up the ladder and allowing the Doctor to pull her up beside Martha.
“Come on, Frank,” Solomon yelled as she started up the ladder.
Rose glimpse the young man dropping the rod before Solomon blocked him from her sight. When she saw him again he was part way up the ladder with a Pig man grabbing his leg.
“Frank!” Solomon cried as he and the Doctor seemed to struggle to get him out of the pig men’s reach. But more of the creatures surrounded Frank, yanking him farther away while also preparing to climb the ladder themselves.
Solomon shoulder checked the Doctor aside and pulled the lid to the sewer closed.
“Ya outta your mind?” Rose demanded, now trying to shove Solomon aside.
“We can’t go after him.” Solomon rounded on her.
“We can’t just leave him,” The Doctor countered, hands on the wheel and ready to turn it.
Solomon gripped it and held it in place, though Rose suspected the Doctor was letting him. “I’m not losing anybody else,” Solomon said firmly, the sound of heeled shoes coming toward them. “Those creatures were from Hell itself!”
“You don’t know what they ….” Rose started to say before the shoes came to a stop.
“Alright, then. Put ‘em up.” A woman with a heavy accent instructed, and Rose turned as the rest did, flinching at the gun in her hand. She and Martha complied, though the two men looked stunned. The woman cocked the gun. “Hands in the air, and no funny business.” She said, and they finally complied as we. “Now tell me, you schmucks, what’ve you done with Laszlo?”
“Uh, who’s Laszlo?” Martha asked, her voice impressively steady considering the danger they seemed to be in.
She took a step forward, and everyone took a step back in the process, the Doctor shifting to stand in front of Rose and Martha.
“Turn around,” the petite blonde instructed. “Walk down the hall ‘n’ go in the room with the door open.”
They did as they were told, hands still in the air. It wasn’t far at all, and the room she was guiding them in to by gun point looked to be a dressing room. Solomon had somehow got in the lead, and he lined them up against the wall facing the dressing table with a second chair off to the right. Martha came up beside him, Rose and the Doctor right behind before their assailant came in behind them and closed the door.
She kept the gun pointed at them as she sat down casually in the chair at the dressing table.
“Laszlo’s my boyfriend.” She started. “Or was my boyfriend until two weeks ago. No letter, no good-bye, no nothin’. And I’m not stupid,” She assured them with a wave of the gun as if gesturing with it was second nature. “I know guys are just pigs, but not my Laszlo. I mean, what kinda guy asks you to meet his mother before he vamooses.”
Rose snorted. “I know of at least one.” She said with a sardonic grin.
“Was he a pig?” The woman asked, already knowing the answer.
“Yeah,” Rose replied.
“Rose,” the Doctor said cautiously. “I know you’re terrific with the domestic approach, but how about we not tarnish Laszlo’s reputation while there’s a gun pointed at us.”
“Huh?” The woman said, narrowing her gaze before looking at the gun in her hand. Her brow shot up as if she was wondering how it go there in the first place. “Oh, sorry.” She said, tossing it carelessly to the side, watching it as it bounced on the other chair. When the four of them flinched she grinned a little. “Oh come on, it’s not real. It’s just a prop. Was either that or a spear.”
“What ever works,” Rose said with an approving grin. The woman smiled back with pride.
“What do you think happened to Laszlo?” Martha asked, her stance relaxing along with the rest of theirs.
“I wish I knew,” The woman replied with a mournful sigh. “One minute he’s there, the next … zip! Vanished.”
“Listen, ah,” The Doctor said, taking a step toward the woman, leaning forward. “What was your name?”
“Tallulah.” She said, straightening up.
“Tallulah,” The Doctor repeated as if seeing out it sounded.
“Three L’s and an H.” She said automatically.
“Right,” He said, clearing his throat as he straightened up. “We can try to find Laszlo, but he’s not the only one. There are people disappearing every night.”
“And there are creatures,” Solomon said as he bowed and shook his head. “Such creatures.”
“Whaddaya mean ‘creatures’?” Tallulah asked nervously.
“Listen, just trust me.” The Doctor jumped in after shooting Solomon a glare. “Everyone is in danger. I need to find out exactly what this is,” He said as he pulled the blob out of his pocket. Tallulah, three L’s and an H, looked like she was going to lose her lunch. “Because then I’ll know exactly what we’re fighting.”
Tallulah swallowed, crinkling her nose. “Prop room’s where you four popped up,” She said with a strain to her voice. “Use what ya like. Balcony is usually free during the afternoon, you can work up there.” She added, turning away from the blob and catching Rose’s eye.
“Brilliant,” He said. “Rose, Martha?”
“I’m good here, thanks.” Martha said quickly, eying the blob with unmasked disgust.
“I’ll keep ya company.” Rose said, earning a wide smile from the Doctor. The two left together, and she was surprised to hear Solomon following after them. “Whaddya need?” She asked the Doctor when they entered the prop room.
“Anything with electronic parts so I can scrap together a scanner.” He said absentmindedly as discarded his overcoat and tossed it on a chair before he scored the room.
Solomon picked up a radio that looked like it hadn’t worked in awhile. “How about this?” He asked, holding it out for the Doctor.
“Perfect,” he replied as he took the Radio from Solomon’s hands, giving it a good toss to flip it around. “It’s the capacitors I need.”
“What sorta scanner are ya building?” Rose asked as she picked up an old looking microphone, and a haphazardly tosses confetti canon.
“A crude little DNA scanner for the little beastie.” He replied as he took his sonic to the radio Solomon gave him. “If I can get a chromosomal reading, I’ll find out where it’s from.” He said, glancing up. “Microphone might work, but the canon’s useless.”
She shrugged, setting the canon back down more carefully than it seemed to have been the first time.
“How about you, Doctor?” Solomon asked, seeming hesitant to get any closer to either of them for a moment. “Where are you from? I’ve been all over and I’ve never heard anybody talk like you.”
“Oh, you know, here and there.” He side stepped the question.
“I’m not a fool, Doctor.” Solomon said, stepping closer.
“No, sorry.” The Doctor apologized, though he kept his eyes trained on the radio.
“Where is he from, Rose?” He asked, turning to her. “You seem to know him more than anyone.”
“We’re travelers.” She replied. “’S all there really is to it.”
Solomon held her eye before nodding once in acceptance. Sighing, he dropped his gaze. “I was so scared,” He said. “I let them take Frank ‘cause I was just too scared.”
“It happens,” Rose said earnestly. “Fight or flight, yeah?”
“Except I should have chosen fight.” Solomon said with conviction. “Which is what I’m going to do now. I gotta get back to Hooverville. With these creatures on the loose, we gotta protect ourselves. Ain’t no one else gonna help us.”
“We’re helping.” Rose reminded him, though she knew it wasn’t enough.
He smiled at her sincerely. “That you are, Rose. And I appreciate it.” He turned to the Doctor. “I hope you find what you’re looking for. For all our sakes.” He said, extending a hand to the Doctor.
He took it, giving Solomon a firm shake. “Good luck,” He said with a warm smile.
Solomon came over, taking Rose’s free hand in both of his and giving it a squeeze before he left the room.
“Well,” The Doctor said with a huff, “You take that microphone and that sheet of metal, and we’ll head on up to the balcony and get to work.” He said, with a grin.
Rose nodded once, gathered the metal sheet a couple feet away, then followed him out of the prop room.