The Shadow Proclamation
The TARDIS set down with a shudder, and immediately the group heard people knocking at every wall.
"That'll be the Judoon," the Doctor said. "Captain, how much experience do you have with the Centralized Targeting System from the 50th century?"
"A bit. Enough."
"I don't want to risk Madam Helbot seeing you, immortality is a crime by the laws of the Shadow Proclamation. Stay in here, use the system, and track that message from your phone. If we know their orbit pattern, we'll have a better chance of finding Tosh. Rose, Jack, you two come with me, but be careful. These people are," he shivered, "bureaucrats."
Rose took her son's hand protectively as the Doctor pulled open the TARDIS doors. In front of them stood a platoon of Judoon, armed to the teeth and pointing several firearms directly at them. The little family looked entirely out of place here, in this bright white, sterile setting, crowded with soldiers.
Jack had never seen a creature that didn't look human before, but he found them fascinating. A human boy his physical age, perhaps, would have been intimidated to see giant rhino-men, but something in his DNA shook with excitement—everything he'd heard about the universe was true. The TARDIS did take them to a new planet, and these were actual, living beings; different from him, but still important. "Hello," Jack said innocently, waving his free hand.
The primed their weapons. Rose grabbed Jack and pulled him slightly behind her, putting as much distance as possible between him and the firearms. The leader stepped forward. "Noh hoh boh joh coh loh?"
"Roh!" the Doctor said quickly, holding up his hands. "Noh toh poh joh foh toh roh hoh! Earth English. 21st century."
"Official designations?" the Judoon asked.
"I'm a Time Lord. These are…my two human companions, from Earth. I come with them as a liaison to speak on their behalf due a threat encroaching on their planet."
The Judoon lowered their weapons. "Follow," the leader ordered, lumbering off slowly. The followed behind him, but Rose eyed the Doctor carefully, whispering very quietly.
"Should Jack be here? Should we have left him in the TARDIS?"
"Captain Jack's genetic makeup is compromised, so the Proclamation can't sense him in the TARDIS. Our Jack has a fairly normal bio-print, they'd sense him in there in a heartbeat and think we were trying to hide something. They have no reason to think he's not human, just play along."
The leader led the three of them into a wide white office area. Behind a bright white desk of screens and lights sat a woman—if that was the right word—dressed in a long blue robe. Her skin was a pale white and her eyes a dark red beneath her tightly packed short yellow hair. She stood officially, eyeing the trio with a mixture of aggravation and interest.
"The Doctor of Gallifrey, I assume?" she asked in a sharp voice.
"Yep," he said warmly popping his 'p' and extending his hand. She only eyed it in confusion so he pulled it back, scratching the back of his head. "Have we met before? Is that you Madam Helbot?"
"No, we have not met, but that is my name. You may have met my great grandmother, or her mother, or her mother before that. It is the duty of my family to carry out the best interests of the Shadow Proclamation. One of the old journals mentioned that there is only one Time Lord left in the universe, so we catalogued you." She pressed a button on the desk and suddenly there was a hologram copy of the Doctor standing in the middle of the room. She rotated her finger on the surface and it cycled through his previous regenerations, then read something off the screen. "The Doctor of Gallifrey. Aliases, The Predator, The Oncoming Storm, The Destroyer of Worlds, The Savior of Earth, The Last Child of Gallifrey, The Wanderer, The Traveler, Freelance Volunteer Protector of Earth—real name unknown."
"Quite a file you've got there," he said a bit nervously.
"Your file is extensive, Doctor. The Proclamation is currently unable to decide whether to give you a medal or an execution date."
"Yup, sounds like me," he shrugged apologetically. "Tell me, in this little catalogue of yours, what do you have on the Shestich?"
The woman frowned. "The Shestich are extinct."
"Yeah, I'm aware of that. These humans here, their planet is in danger. There are abductions taking place that only fit the MO of the Shestich. Earth is a level five planet, invasion, removal, or seeding of it is strictly prohibited by Section 3, subsection 24 of—"
"I know our rules!" the woman snapped. "I hold them all, burned into my mind, on rotation in my thought twenty-four hours a day for the last five hundred years. If you believe a crime is being committed then we will assist you in the apprehension of those responsible, but do not think you are leading children along at your coattails, Doctor."
"Sorry," he said quickly, "I'm aware of how unusual it sounds, but would you pull the file on the Shestich."
"We do not keep it on the active file list. Wait here", she said curtly, sweeping out of the room. Except for the Judoon leader standing stoically at the door at the far end of the room, they were alone.
"Who were all those people?" Jack asked his mother, pointing at where the hologram had been.
"Me," the Doctor smiled. "Time Lords do that. When they're dying they regenerate—all their cells changed until they look like an entirely different person."
Jack stared ahead, not looking at either of them. "It's a genetic mutation caused by the excess radiation of the Untempered Schism bleeding into Gallifreyan genes over billions of years until it became encoded into their DNA."
Rose widened her eyes. "Jack, how did you know that?"
Jack suddenly let out a startled cry, covering his eyes and grabbing at his temples in pain. Rose caught him before he fell over, supporting him as best as she could with her small frame. "Jack! Jack are you okay? Can you hear me? Doctor what's wrong with him?"
The Doctor already had the sonic out, scanning across Jack's pained face. He set his hands on his son's head, concentrating carefully, and the suddenly Jack gasped in relief. "It's gone. Oh, it's gone. My head."
"Jack, listen to me carefully," the Doctor whispered carefully. The Judoon in corner was looking more and more interested in what they were doing. "You can't look for information about the Time Lords in your mind. You were interested in regeneration, so you started searching for facts about it. That's incredibly dangerous."
"Why? What's wrong with questions?"
"Nothing, nothing is wrong with wanting to know things. But Jack, if you want to know something, ask me. Don't try to figure it out."
"I don't understand," he said, still rubbing a bit at his tender head. "Why did that hurt?"
The Doctor looked at Rose. "It's best if he knows, He won't accidentally break through without meaning to."
Rose nodded, kissing her son on the forehead.
"Jack," the Doctor said gently, "we had to do something to save your life. A Time Lord consciousness can't exist in a human head. Do you remember being in pain when you were born?"
"It was because you were too smart. Time Lord children are born with a basic knowledge of the universe, time and space. Because I'm your father, you were born with that knowledge too, and it almost killed you. I had to put a wall up, inside your mind, to keep it from overwhelming you. I thought it was working better, I thought we had more time to find a more permanent solution, but when I looked in your head just now I saw the wall was covered in tiny little cracks. You're causing those, Jack; you want the knowledge behind it so you're pushing against the wall. It's not strong enough to stop you, and if you're not careful you'll break right through it and burn out your brain. That headache you had just know was just a crack in the wall, you don't want to know what it would be like if it fell."
"Is there a problem?" Madam Helbot asked, coming into the room with a small disc in her hand.
"Ah, no problem at all," the Doctor said jovially, clapping Jack on the back. "Yesterday was an Earth holiday and my companion got a little too merry, if you know what I mean. He'll walk it off in no time."
She eyed the boy, her face expressionless, then she set the disc down on her desk. A hologram figure appeared in front of them; it was a tall very pale figure with large eyes and no hair upon its scaly head. A voice sprang from the device.
Official designation: Shestich. Aliases: None. Origin: Planet Tich 1, 2, and 3. Status: Extinct. Cause: Starvation. The adult Shestich lived primarily on the brain matter of other species. When harvesting of level five planets (those with intelligent life forms) became illegal due to Section 3, Subsection 24 of the Shadow Proclamation, there was no legal source of food for the Shestich. They turned to cannibalism, surviving for many years by attacking their own kind. They hunted each other into extinction one hundred years prior to this recording.
"Except they haven't," the Doctor said disapprovingly to the hologram. "Your records are faulty."
"Our records are immaculate," Madam Helbot snapped.
"I've met the Shestich, and you're very wrong about a very important detail. They don't live on brain matter. They can gain sustenance from almost any living thing—intelligent or not. It's a common misconception, I'd tell you not to feel bad about it, but, well, it's kind of your job."
"We did our research. We had five separate Shestich in here over long period of study before they died out. They dined exclusively on brain matter of the deceased beings we placed with them."
"Well, duh. They prefer brain matter, they consider it a priceless delicacy, that doesn't mean they need it. If you stick me in a room for a year and give me nothing but bananas and pears, but a steady supply of both, I'll never touch a single pear. It doesn't mean I can't eat them, it means I don't care to."
"The bodies weren't crushed," Rose said suddenly. The Doctor grinned at her—he loved watching her put the pieces together before these supposedly advanced races did. "They were emptied."
"Only the most intelligent," he nodded grimly. "They taste better. For some reason they have their sights set on Earth. If Tosh's message was right, this is only the beginning." He turned to talk to Madam Helbot, but she wasn't looking at him. She was staring directly at Jack.
"Well," the Doctor said, quickly, taking Rose's hand, "as the Freelance Volunteer Protector of Earth, I think I'll take my companions off to save their little rock. Always getting into trouble aren't you, silly little apes?" he said, ruffling Jack's hair. "Come along, humans."
"Wait," Madam Helbot said quickly. "Young man, may I speak with you a moment?"
"No time, no time, so sorry," the Doctor said quickly, leading them both towards the TARDIS doors. "I'll bring them both back after we save the world. How's Tuesday, is Tuesday good for you? Tuesday it is, I'll definitely bring them back on a Tuesday."
The Judoon leader stepped in front of the TARDIS doors, blocking them from escape. Madam Helbot took Jack's shoulder and spun him around. "What is your name?"
"Jack," he said simply, glancing nervously at Rose.
"And you are a human being, Jack? From Earth?"
The Doctor nodded almost imperceptivity, but Jack caught it. "Yes."
"You know, it is strange. I have been bred since infancy to recognize the genetic makeup of every life form in the universe. I look at the Doctor and I see the imprint of thousands of years of Time Lord physiology. I look at this…yellow girl and I see a rapid dissension from apes to intelligent life forms. I look at you, young man, and something is not right. I see nothing. You say your human—but then why do I not see the same history behind you as I see behind this woman? Why do you think that is, Jack?"
"I…I don't know," he said.
"Well, that's quite alright," she said, lifting her hands to his face too quickly for him to move away, "I'll just have to take a closer look."
"No!" the Doctor cried, trying to knock her way.
It was too late. The woman gasped and pulled her hands back as if she'd been burned. She glared at the Doctor with a look caught between shock and fury, her hands shaking. "What have you done? Oh, Doctor, what have you done!"
"It's okay—he's fine! Really, he's okay—"
"For how long? A week? A month? Doctor, there are rules against this!"
"What's going on?" Rose asked, pulling Jack away from the woman.
"Is the child hers? Have you even told her?" Madam Helbot asked him hysterically.
"Told me what?" Rose asked, holding her son behind her.
The Doctor looked down a bit, fidgeting uncomfortably. "Technically…Jack is sort of illegal. It's a stupid law—"
"It is a just law!" Helbot snapped.
"He hasn't done anything," Rose said. "It's not illegal to exist."
"The boy is not the criminal here, his Father is to blame," Helbot said, looking at Rose sadly. "What happens will be on his head. Time Lords are not allowed to have Half-breed children."
"It wasn't exactly some elaborate plan—we didn't even know our species were compatible," the Doctor said.
"Why not?" Rose said suddenly, drawing back their attention. "Why can't Time Lords have children with humans?"
"Their lives are dangerous, and short," Helbot said, placing a hand on Rose's shoulder and the other on Jack's. "You have my sympathy. Your son will not live long. There are horrible things in his future."
"You can't know that!" the Doctor insisted angrily. "He's not like the others. This is my son. I did not just have a baby with some woman on a planet and then abandon them—I will be here to help him! I can teach him right from wrong."
"Time Lord Half-breeds have taken down entire star systems with their recklessness. They have the intelligence of your people with none of the control. I hope for the sake of the universe you keep a close hold on him."
"So you're not going to arrest me, then?" the Doctor asked.
"Not yet," she said, "but we will be watching you." She turned on her heel and stalked back towards her office, motioning to the guard to let them into the TARDIS. "And Doctor," she called over her shoulder, "if the Time Lords were alive, you'd be executed."
"I know," the Doctor said solemnly, pulling his family with him into the TARDIS. Once Jack was out of earshot, Rose caught his arm, her eyes burning with a soft anger.
"Why didn't you tell me?" she whispered.
"I was going to. That first hour when we found out you were pregnant, I was going to tell you everything, but you made me promise. You asked me to give him a chance, so I did. I am. He does have a chance, Rose. We're giving him one."
She took his hand and nodded. "Jack is a good boy. He'll be a great man one day."
She had no way of knowing how soon that day would arrive.