Three: Days of Reckoning I
Cameo: Torchwood 3, End of Days.
"Stultorum plena sunt omnia." (The world is a madhouse.) – Cicero
The terrible night was over, the enemy defeated, Cardiff and the Earth (relatively) safe again, and the current Torchwood 3 knew now the leader of the Institute was an immortal. Essentially, Group Captain Jack Harkness, 51st century Time Agent, American volunteer and the universe's biggest human flirt was Torchwood, and they were the manpower behind him. Gwen sat in her boss' office at the edge of his desk, watching the impossible man going through files. Even after a rollercoaster year working for him, she couldn't quite wrap her mind around his existence, much less his motivations. Sure, he was brave, honourable and impeccably loyal, dedicated towards the code of Torchwood, but there was always something off, as if he was waiting for something. Or someone… "What's happened to the rift?" she asked, trying to engage him.
"It closed up when Abaddon was destroyed. But it's gonna be more volatile than ever," he mused.
"The visions we had. We all saw people we loved. What did you see?"
"Nothing." Jack shook his head. "There was nothing."
Finally, she asked the question she really wanted to. "Jack… what would have tempted you? What visions would have convinced you to open the rift?" What is it you are waiting for here?
"The right kind of Doctor," he answered promptly, getting up and leaving the office.
"Jack…?" She hated it when he gave her that particular answer. Again. Sighing, she leant back.
Jack marched through the main room of the hub. "Where are they with those coffees?" he snarked. Just as he reached the spot between the rift manipulator and the storage tanks, one of them beeped, stopping him in his tracks. He took a good look at the hand in the tank: It was pulsing. Getting closer, he checked it, hoping it wasn't some kind of false alert, but then, his advanced senses heard it – a whooshing, grinding noise that could only be one thing in the universe. At the same time, an unnatural wind blew downwards into the hub, ruffling Jack's hair and blowing the loose papers off the workstations. He smiled with joy and, looking to the side, he grabbed a backpack and the container before Gwen would notice he was gone, rushing to the emergency staircase. Doctor!
Meanwhile, one Time Lord and his beloved landed their mutual friend, home and time-space-craft on Roald Dahl Plass. "Where are we?" Martha wondered. They had spent the last few days on a resort planet, spending their time with running a marathon or similar adrenaline-pumping activities as much as with being pampered in a spa and of course, make love as if it was the end of the universe, all to escape the severe case of cabin fever and memories of hideous sixties wallpaper they had had to suffer the last few months.
"Cardiff," the Doctor answered, flipping switches and pushing buttons in his usual performance (one really couldn't call it flying when you did the job of six people alone, which required the use of both hands spread thin and at least one foot).
"Cardiff?!" She had been to Cardiff once – it was lovely, but why would they come here of all places?
"Ah, but the thing about Cardiff, it's built on a rift in time and space, a Vortex Rift to be precise. It's just like California and the San Andreas Fault, but this rift bleeds Vortex energy. Every now and then I need to open up the engines, soak up the energy and use it as fuel," he explained with the matching hand gestures.
It clicked. "So it's a pit stop," she grinned.
"Exactly. Should only take twenty seconds." Sensing something in time, he looked up. "The rift's been active."
"Wait a minute. They had an earthquake in Cardiff a couple of years ago. Was that you?" she wondered.
"Bit of trouble with the Slitheen," he mused. "A long time ago. Lifetimes. I was a different man back then. That was my previous regeneration."
"I take it Rose was around?"
"Yep," he confirmed, remembering their agreement – stay honest, especially about Rose.
Unknown to them, a man in a RAF greatcoat was racing across the Plass, a heavy backpack on him. It was Jack, having bested his own personal record of running the 105 steps of the fire escape of the Hub up to the Plass – the only way up faster than the invisible lift and past his team without being seen. You're not getting away without me this time! "Doctor!" he shouted, still running.
Getting back to the captain's chair, the Doctor checked the gauges. Enough energy for another two years of flying, barring anything extraordinary. "Finito. All powered up."
Suddenly, the scanner switched to visual, showing Jack racing at them. Get that wrong thing away from me! the TARDIS yelled at him.
Already on it! The Time Lord pulled the handbrake, starting the dematerialization process, but Jack took an almighty lunge at the ship. The moment the immortal man crashed into the ship, one of the circuits at the top of the Time Rotor went bang, and the two travellers were thrown to the floor.
"Whoa! What's that?" Martha called, pulling herself up on the console.
The Doctor scrambled to his feet, turning the scanner towards himself, ducking several times under showers of sparks. "We're accelerating into the future. The year one billion. Five billion. Five trillion. Fifty trillion? What? The year one hundred trillion? That's impossible!"
"Why? What happens then?!"
Total bewilderment covered his features. "We're going to the end of the universe."
Outside, in the time vortex, Jack was hanging onto the TARDIS for dear life or one of his, in a pose comically resembling the Doctor's hug of the sentient ship not that long ago. "Doctor!" he shouted again, the sound drawn out.
Finally, the TARDIS stopped, more with a dong/crash than her usual thumping sound. "Well, we've landed," the Doctor stated quietly, looking up at the rotor.
"So what's out there?" Martha frowned.
He shook his head. "I don't know."
Martha's eyes widened. "Oh, say that again. That's rare."
"Not even us Time Lords came this far. We should leave. We should go. We should really, really go…"
Simultaneously, they broke out into identical manic grins and raced each other to the doors. The environment they ended up in resembled a quarry. Just a few metres from them though, Jack was lying on the ground. "Oh my God!" the med student exclaimed, running over to the officer's prone form, and checked for life. "Can't get a pulse." Jumping back to her feet, she turned back to the TARDIS. "Hold on. You've got that medical kit thing."
The Doctor approached Jack far more carefully. "Hello again. Oh, I'm so sorry, old friend." He turned away in sorrow.
Martha returned, the emergency bag in her hand. "Here we go. Get out of the way," she ordered, kneeling by his side. "It's a bit odd, though. Not very hundred trillion. That coat's more like World War II."
"I think he came with us," the Time Lord answered.
She checked Jack with a stethoscope. "How do you mean, from Earth?" It confused her: he had repeatedly explained that no humanoid life form based on more than 80% matter – humans and Time Lords alike – could survive the Time Vortex very long, so how…
"Must have been clinging to the outside of the TARDIS," he concluded, shooting his ship a look. "All the way through the vortex. Well, that's very him." He shrugged.
Pulling out the ear pieces, she turned around. "What, do you know him?"
"Friend of mine. Used to travel with me, in my last regeneration," he admitted.
"But he's. I'm sorry, there's no heartbeat. There's nothing. He's dead," Martha whispered. Just in that very moment, Jack came back to life with a huge gasp and grasped for the first thing in range – which was Martha. "Oh, so much for me. It's all right. Just breathe deep. I've got you."
In an automatised reaction, Jack turned on his charm factors by 500% output and flashed his best grin at her. "Group Captain Jack Harkness. And who are you?"
"Nice to meet you, Martha Jones," he smiled, reaching out. But before the Captain could touch her face again, he found his wrist in the iron grip of one very jealous Time Lord. Jack caught the older man's icy glare and nodded, having received the message. Don't you dare. "I was only saying hello. How was I supposed to know?" Taking a sniff would have done it I suppose, but then again, I was fucking dead! Remedying the lapse, he scented the pair, and chuckled internally. Oh dear. He's all over her. And hers clings to him like syrup.
Realising what was going on, Martha smiled. "I don't mind." Score for Martha and her ego. Together, they helped Jack stand, and the Doctor stepped back.
Jack finally faced the Time Lord eye to eye. "Doctor."
"Good to see you," Jack stated flatly.
"And you. Same as ever. Although, have you had work done?" the Doctor asked in a conversational tone.
"You can talk," he shot back.
The Doctor paused for a second, not making the connection immediately. "Oh yes, the face. Regeneration. How did you know this was me?"
Jack waved his head at the TARDIS. "The police box kind of gives it away. I've been following you for a long time. You abandoned me," he accused.
"Did I? Well, moving on."
Seeing he wouldn't get an explanation right now, Jack turned to another subject that laid heavily on his mind. "Just got to ask. The Battle of Canary Wharf. I saw the list of the dead. It said Rose Tyler."
"Oh, no! Sorry, she's alive," the Doctor smiled, causing a similar reaction in the Torchwood leader.
"Parallel world, safe and sound. And Mickey, and her mother."
"Yes!" Laughing in relief, Jack hugged him fiercely.
"Good old Rose," Martha shook her head. Well, it was to be expected if the Captain originally knew the 9th Doctor and not the 10th. "How about we take a look around?"
In answer, the Doctor let his friend go and turned towards the lower parts of the quarry. "Well then. Allons-y."
The two humans trailed behind him. "So how did you leave him?"
"Well, as I said, he left me behind," Jack answered. "To be fair, I think for a moment he believed me dead."
"Well, do you know what Daleks are?"
"We had a run in with the Cult of Skaro a while ago I'm afraid," Martha shuddered. "I don't know what's worse, them and their war-waging, or the fact that apparently some folks out there seem to have trouble to take them seriously due to their looks."
Jack laughed. "I know what you mean. To be fair, I can see where they come from. Anyway. My run-in with them was on Game Station, far into the future, well, your and my future. So there I was, stranded in the year two-hundred-one-hundred, ankle-deep in Dalek dust, and he goes off without me. But I had this," he held up his left wrist. "I used to be a Time Agent. It's called a vortex manipulator. He's not the only one who can time travel."
"Oh, excuse me, that is not time travel." the Doctor pointed back at Jack, offended. "It's like, I've got a sports car and you've got a space hopper."
"Oh ho. Boys and their toys," Martha laughed.
Jack ducked his head, conceding. "All right, so I bounced. I thought, 21st century, the best place to find the Doctor, except that I got it a little wrong. Arrived in 1869, this thing burnt out, so it was useless."
"Told you," the Time Lord sniped smugly.
"I had to live through the entire twentieth century waiting for a version of you that would coincide with me," Jack finished.
"But that makes you more than one hundred years old," Martha said. For all she could tell, Jack was very much human, so…
"And looking good, don't you think?" he grinned. "So I went to the time rift, based myself there because I knew you'd come back to refuel. Until finally I get a signal on this," he pointed at his backpack, "detecting you and here we are."
"But what's the matter with you and him, Theta?" Martha finally addressed him.
"Not now, lairelai," the Doctor stopped, turning around to shoot them an incredulous look. "You two! We're at the end of the universe, right? Right at the edge of knowledge itself and all you can keep talking about is manic old me!?" He shook his head. "Come on."
Inside the silo, Martha mulled over the whole thing that everything was dying now; that time killed everything, even this world (and that for some reason, the Doctor wasn't sure if Jack could freeze to death). But it had been a strange thing, because, when she herself had looked into the darkened sky, she could swear she had seen, just for a second, the constellation of the Scorpio and another, smaller one just off where the Libra used to be, shimmering in the heavens, as if waiting for something and hiding until then. How can they still be there? she wondered as they followed young Creet through the corridors, looking for the family of the man they'd saved outside, Padra Shafe Cane. "It's like a refugee camp," she frowned.
Jack wrinkled his nose in disgust. Not even the dead of the World Wars had managed to stink like that in his opinion. "Stinking. Oh, sorry. No offence. Not you."
The Doctor chuckled, knowing where the 51st century man came from. "Don't you see that? The ripe old smell of humans. You survived. Oh, you might have spent a million years evolving into clouds of gas, another million as downloads, and even 'ascend', as Antarians call it, to a higher plane of existence for a while, but you always revert to the same basic shape. The fundamental humans." He waved at the crowded corridors. "End of the universe and here you are. Indomitable! That's the word. Indomitable! Ha!"
In the next corridor, Padra got lucky, and was reunited with his mother and brother. The latter immediately showed up on Jack's radar, who greeted him with a smile. "Captain Jack Harkness. And who are you?"
"Stop it," the Doctor glared. "Give us a hand with this. It's half deadlocked. I need you to overwrite the code. Let's find out where we are."
Shaking Beltone Shafe Cane's hand, Jack turned to the Time Lord and helped him with the sealed door… only to find themselves halfway up a giant rocket silo. And, in typical Doctor-fashion, said Time Lord nearly fell in if not for Jack. "Gotcha."
"Thanks," he answered sheepishly.
"How did you cope without me?" the ex-Time Agent joked.
"Now that is what I call a rocket," Martha breathed.
"They're not refugees, they're passengers," the Doctor concluded.
"He said they were going to Utopia," the young woman remembered.
"The perfect place. Hundred trillion years, it's the same old dream." He turned to Jack. "You recognise those engines?"
"Nope. Whatever it is, it's not rocket science. But it's hot, though."
"Boiling," the Doctor agreed. They stepped back, closing the door again. "But if the universe is falling apart, what does 'Utopia' mean?"
The old man who'd dragged them off, Professor Yana, was a somewhat unusual fellow, stellarly brilliant, but a little without hope. And unfortunately, the system he had built was simply put something the Doctor had never seen before, and that said something for someone who at least managed to keep maintenance on Antarian biotech like an avatar module (which followed about the same logic as a symphony – the Space-weavers used music as base science, and numbers to dumb it down). "I'm not from around these parts. I've never seen a system like it. Sorry."
"No, no. I'm sorry. It's my fault. There's been so little help," Yana sighed.
They were interrupted by Martha, who finally got around to pull out a transparent container from Jack's backpack. "Oh, my God. You've got a hand?" It was the mystery alien hand from the Hub. "A hand in a jar." Pointing at it for emphasis, she continued, "A hand, in a jar, in your bag."
The Doctor rushed over, not quite believing it either as he squatted down, facing the container on eye level. "But that-that-that's my hand," he stuttered, wondering all the same where the hell Jack got that particular piece of him!
"I said I had a Doctor detector," Jack smirked. Never said though what kind of, or how I got it… Thanks Yvonne!
Chanto, Yana's Malmooth (humanoid-insectoid) assistant and lab partner was rather confused, for what she saw contradicted all she had learnt about humans and the likes so far. "Chan, is this a tradition amongst your people, tho?"
"Not on my street," Martha answered, before rounding on the Doctor. "What do you mean, that's your hand? You've got both your hands, I can see them."
"Long story. I lost my hand Christmas Day, in a swordfight," he dismissed. "Trouble with the Sycorax…"
Martha frowned, trying to correlate that story with what she had learnt of Time Lord physiology so far (that e-book was massive). "But not even you can regrow body parts… unless… Did you regenerate just before that happened?"
"Pretty much. Was still within the 15 hours," he confirmed. "So yeah. I grew another hand." He waved with the new right. "Hello." Then, he smiled. "You've become good with that."
"I'm the one patching you up when you forget yourself, I have to."
The whole insanity had spiked Yana's curiosity. "Might I ask, what species are you?"
The Doctor straightened himself. "Time Lord. One of the last, other one's my mother, The Professor… Heard of them? Legend or anything? Not even a myth?" Yana shook his head. "Blimey, end of the universe is a bit humbling…" A thought occurred to him, and he decided to put it to a test. "Maybe you don't know us under that particular name… what about Chronarchs? Time-Weavers?" Both earned him blank stares, and he tried one last. "Keepers or Children of Time?"
That phrase caused a reaction in the young Malmooth. "Chan, this is known to me, tho. Chan, however, the phrase is now Children of Time and Space, tho."
"What does that mean?" Jack asked no-one in particular.
The Doctor shot Martha a look, who nodded in slight understanding. "It means Time Lords have joined forces with the Antarians, the space-weavers. Makes sense – end of the universe after all," he mused. He shot Chanto a look. "I'm sorry, but I didn't quite catch your name."
"My assistant and good friend, Chantho. A survivor of the Malmooth. This was their planet, Malcassairo, before we took refuge," Yana introduced.
"The conglomeration outside, that was yours?" the Time Lord asked.
"Chan the conglomeration died tho."
"I'm sorry to hear that," Jack answered.
"Same here," the Doctor added, catching the warning in his human companions. Now was not the time to wax lyrical about something.
"Chan most grateful tho."
"15 hour cellular regenerative energy reserve, and you grew another hand," Martha lifted an eyebrow. "What compelled you to lose it in the first place?"
"Challenged the Sycorax leader to a one-on-one fight for planet Earth, I told you about that." Seeing her lifting an accusing eyebrow, he conceded and got up to face her. "Okay, I forgot to mention the hand." Using the regrown right, he took her hand and squeezed gently. "It's fine. Look, really, it's me. New hand, but still me."
Smiling, she squeezed back. "It's one thing to read it. It's another to see it."
"Chan, you are most unusual, tho."
"Well," the Doctor shrugged. His father, the Keeper, once had regrown one arm and one leg after a lab accident, so it wasn't that much actually.
Jack turned to Yana. "So what about those things outside? The Beastie Boys. What are they?"
"We call them the Futurekind, which is a myth in itself, but it's feared they are what we will become, unless we reach Utopia."
"And Utopia is?" the Doctor asked.
"Oh, every human knows of Utopia. Where have you been?" Yana frowned in confusion.
"Well, I did say, I am not human. Bit of a hermit."
"A hermit with friends?"
"Hermits United. We meet up every ten years and swap stories about caves. It's good fun, for a hermit. So, er, Utopia?"
In another display of his usual brilliance, the Doctor managed to actually get Yana's system up and running, causing a flurry of activity in the silo, with everyone boarding as quick as they could. The activity in the lab was no less hurried, as the Doctor and his companions as well as Chantho and Yana worked at top speed to get the starting procedures going.
In a moment of tranquillity, the Doctor sniffed one of the strange wires he was connecting to the neutralino map, and stared at Yana in disbelief. "Is this?"
"Yes, gluten extract. Binds the neutralino map together," Yana confirmed.
The Time Lord wasn't sure what to make of that; then again, he lived in and flew a colony of coral, and Antarians built/grew most from some variety of animated carbon. "That's food. You've built this system out of food and string and staples? Professor Yana, you're a genius."
"Says the man who made it work," the old man dismissed.
"Oh, it's easy coming in at the end, but you're stellar. This is, this is magnificent. And I don't say that often," the Doctor corrected him.
"Well, even my title is an affectation. There hasn't been such a thing as a university for over a thousand years. I've spent my life going from one refugee ship to another."
"If you'd been born in a different time, you'd be revered." Yana chuckled in dismissal. "I mean it. Throughout the galaxies."
" Oh, those damned galaxies," Yana sighed. "They had to go burn out and collapse. Some admiration would have been nice. Yes, just a little, just once."
"Well, you've got it now. But that footprint engine thing. You can't activate it from onboard. It's got to be from here. You're staying behind, aren't you?" The Doctor lifted both eyebrows.
"With Chantho. She won't leave without me. Simply refuses."
Why does that sound familiar? Oh, right, you tend to inspire that kind of loyalty too… "You'd give your life so they could fly."
"Oh, I think I'm a little too old for Utopia. Time I had some sleep," Yana smiled tiredly.
"Professor, tell the Doctor we've found his blue box," Lt. Atillo called through the intercom.
"Doctor?" Jack called, causing the Gallifreyan to move over. He pointed at the monitor, clearly displaying the TARDIS.
"Professor, it's a wild stab in the dark, but I may just have found you a way out," the Doctor grinned, patting the man's shoulder.
Moving the TARDIS to the laboratory, the Doctor connected its energy reserves to Yana's footprint system to speed up the process. But the real trouble came up only minutes later as the radiation control was destroyed by a Futurekind woman who had snuck into the silo. In a spectacular display of his worst habit, Jack pulled out two high-yield power cables, making a decision only he would even consider, all for overriding the vents. "We can jump start the override," he called, putting the cables together. He started to scream as electricity coursed through his system.
"Don't! It's going to flare!" the Doctor yelled, too late. The override was done – and Jack broke to the floor, dead.
It had been not enough. Jate simply evaporated, leaving behind his clothes.
Martha sprinted over to Jack's prone form. "I've got him." She started CPR.
"Chan, don't touch the cables, tho." Chantho threw the still crackling cable aside.
"I'm so sorry," Yana said.
The Doctor stood in the background, the mind already plotting ahead. "The chamber's flooded with stet radiation, yes?"
"Without the couplings, the engines will never start. It was all for nothing," Yana lamented.
"Oh, I don't know," the Doctor stated enigmatically, squatting down beside Martha. "Martha, leave him." He took her gently by the shoulders, pulling her back to her feet.
"You've got to let me try," she protested.
"Come on, come on, just listen to me. Now leave him alone," he advised her, then turned to Yana. "It strikes me, Professor, you've got a room which no man can enter without dying. Is that correct?"
Yana snorted. "Yes."
"Well…" Just then, Jack took a huge gasp and came back to life. Again. Causing Martha to stare at the man on the floor with utter bewilderment. The Doctor took off his glasses, pocketing them. "I think I got just the man."
Tasting something on his lips, Jack asked the first thing which came to his mind. "Was someone kissing me?!"
Just like old times, Jack thought grinning as he ran to the control room, side by side with the Doctor. Back then, he had been the one of both companions at least half-way capable of keeping up with the Time Lord… but it seemed that this version of him was even faster, both physically and mentally. He had to give it all to not be left behind, and it was exhilarating. (Compared to that, Torchwood seemed a little dull, since they did most work by car.) Coats flapping, they stormed the room.
"Lieutenant!" the Doctor yelled, gaining the attention of Atillo. "Get on board the rocket! I promise, you're going to fly."
"The chamber's flooded," Atillo frowned.
"Trust me. We've found a way of tripping the system. Run!" Atillo didn't need any other invitation, and left. Meanwhile, Jack had stripped off his coat and vortex manipulator, and as the Doctor finally took notice, he was at his shirt. "W-what are you taking your clothes off for?"
Jack flipped his braces back over his t-shirt. "I'm going in."
"Well, by the looks of it, I'd say the stet radiation doesn't affect clothing, only flesh."
"Well, I look good though." Jack ran to the coupling chamber and stopped, turning around again. "How long have you known?" he asked, the question of questions for him.
The Doctor faced him in regret. Jack was still his friend, no matter what had become of him, and he deserved the truth as much as everyone else, maybe even more. "Ever since I ran away from you. Good luck."
Jack entered the chamber and closed the door quickly, singeing his fingertips as he touched the hot interior. Then, he went on to the couplings.
Sadly, the flare Jack had caused had fried the visual communications, reducing them to audio as Martha called them. "Doctor, are you there?"
The Doctor pressed the reboot key as well, not getting a picture either. Damn. "Receiving, yeah. He's inside."
"And still alive?"
The rest of the conversation drowned out a little to the Doctor as he walked back to the window to the couplings chamber. Aiming his sonic at the monitor, he tuned up the audio feed so Martha would hear what was to come – the reality behind Jack. "When did you first realise?" he asked the ex-Time Agent.
"Earth, 1892. Got in a fight in Ellis Island. A man shot me through the heart. Then I woke up. Thought it was kind of strange. But then it never stopped. Fell off a cliff, trampled by horses, World War One, World War Two, poison, starvation, a stray javelin."
"Ooh!" The Doctor made a pained face in sympathy.
"In the end, I got the message. I'm the man who can never die. And all that time you knew," Jack finished with gritted teeth – despite him being him, the constant self-healing was a little strenuous, and manually tripping the power couplings didn't help.
"That's why I left you behind. It's not easy, even just…" The Doctor rubbed the back of his head, part embarrassment, part apology. "Just looking at you, Jack, 'cause you're wrong."
"Thanks," the man hissed.
"You are. I can't help it." He turned to the side for a second, trying to collect his thoughts. "I'm a Time Lord, Jack. It's instinct. It's in my guts. You're a fixed point in time and space. You're a fact, a universal fact. Can't even count as human any longer. That's never meant to happen. Even the TARDIS reacted against you. Tried to shake you off. Flew all the way to the end of the universe just to get rid of you."
"So what you're saying is that you're, err," Jack finally managed to turn the third coupling, tripping it, "prejudiced?"
The Doctor smiled. "I never thought of it like that."
"Shame on you," Jack grinned accusingly.
"Yeah." He rubbed his eyes.
In the lab, Martha was indeed listening to the two (near-)immortal men, and what she heard was as funny as it was sad. Jack was the Doctor's friend, a former companion, but despite the Time Lord's obvious caring for the human ex-Time Agent, it was apparently a conscious effort to not run away from him because of what Jack had become. Even if logically, as an immortal fact, as the Doctor called him, Jack was probably the best kind of companion the jeopardy-prone Time Lord could have. How… well, probably that's the next part.
"Last thing I remember, back when I was mortal, I was facing three Daleks. Death by extermination. And then I came back to life," Jack retold as he pulled out the next power coupling. "What happened?"
"Rose happened," the Doctor stated simply.
"I thought you'd sent her back home."
"She came back. Ripped open the heart of the TARDIS and absorbed the time vortex itself." He still wasn't sure about that particular stunt of Rose – sure, it had saved their lives, but… it had condemned them as well. Jack had become a fact, and he had lost another regeneration (although he couldn't complain about finally reaching perfect form). Rollercoaster girl, that was Rose.
"What does that mean, exactly?"
"No one's ever meant to have that power. When Antarians harness bigger portions of that power, it's used by over a hundred people and a ton of machines as not to let the energy run wild, lest it is one of the sovereigns, but they're not normal," he explained. "If a Time Lord did what Rose did, he'd become a god. A vengeful god. But she was human. Everything she did was so human. She brought you back to life, but unlike a Time Lord or an Antarian, she couldn't control it. She brought you back forever. That's something, I suppose." He leaned against the doorframe while Jack struggled with Coupling No 4. "The final act of the Time War was life."
"Do you think she could change me back?" Jack wondered.
"I took the power out of her," the Doctor shook his head. "She's gone, Jack. She's not just living on a parallel world, she's trapped there. The walls have closed. And without FTL travel, she won't get near anyone who can open gates."
"I went back to her estate, in the nineties, just once or twice. Watched her growing up. Never said hello. Timelines and all that."
"Do you want to die?" The Doctor fixated his old friend with a serious stare.
"Oh, this one's a little stuck," Jack deflected, still struggling with the coupling.
Smiling painfully, he replied, "I thought I did. I don't know. But this lot. You see them out here surviving, and that's fantastic."
The Doctor grinned together with his old friend, especially at the catchphrase of his last version. "You might be out there, somewhere."
"I could go meet myself."
"Well, the only man you're ever going to be happy with."
Jack chuckled. "This new regeneration, it's kinda cheeky."
The final coupling slammed down. "Yes!"
"Now! Get out of there, come on!" The Doctor picked up an old-fashioned phone handset. "Lieutenant, everyone on board?"
"Ready and waiting."
"Stand by. Two minutes to ignition."
"Ready to launch. Outer doors sealed."
The computer started the countdown, causing the men to flurry around, flipping switches and pushing buttons. "Ah, nearly there. The footprint, it's a gravity pulse. It stamps down, the rocket shoots up. Bit primitive. It'll take the both of us to keep it stable," the Doctor explained to Martha as she skidded into the room.
Not deterred, Martha stopped him. "Doctor, it's Yana. He's got one of these watches. It's the same as yours and your mother's. Same writing on it, same everything."
"Don't be ridiculous," he breathed in disbelief.
"I asked him. He said he's had it his whole life."
"So he's got the same watch," Jack shrugged. Big deal. Ianto had the same mug as him.
"It's not just a watch, Jack. It's a Chameleon Arch Fob Watch," she insisted. "It's not tritanium unlike yours, but it's the same. There is this device, this thing on board of every TARDIS, it can change the species of Time Lords."
"Usually, it changes a Time Lord into human; the watch is a storage device for the memories, Artron energy and biodata," the Doctor explained. "Are you really sure?"
"I can't read it, but it looked nearly exactly the same, even given that The Professor's was black and blue," Martha stressed.
"It can't be," he whispered.
An alarm blared. "That means he could be a Time Lord. You might not be the last one," Jack realised.
"I am not, technically, but I was never good with technicalities. I'm no Valeyard," the Doctor dismissed. "Jack, keep it level!"
"But that's brilliant, isn't it? There is one who survived the actual war, like you!" Martha interjected.
"Yes, it is. Course it is. Depends which one. Brilliant, fantastic, yeah," he rambled. "But all that is left of my generation is ashes. They died, all of them. Or got stuck in time, out of reach for anyone who is not called The Professor."
"Not if he was human," Jack gave back, remembering his lessons in the Time Agency Academy. A Time Lock was very specific after all.
"What did he say, Martha?" Agitated, he got into her face and yelled, "What did he say?"
"He looked at the watch like he could hardly see it," she answered, counting to ten in her head. His distress hung in the air like storm clouds. "I think it has a perception filter on it."
"What about now? Can he see it now?"
"I… I don't know… oh my god. We've been babbling key phrases around him all the time!"
The Doctor shuddered, then turned to Jack. "We're on a schedule still. Get me the ignition keys."
The countdown was down to the last fifteen seconds.
Jack fetched the two keys from the other end of the control room. "If he escaped the Time War, then it's the perfect place to hide. The end of the universe."
Martha fixed her beloved with the same, wide and horrified eyes as his. "Think of what the Face of Boe said. His dying words. He said…"
Three, two, one.
The Doctor turned the keys, sending the rocket to Utopia. "'You Are Not Alone'. Y-A-N-A…" he whispered in realization as his eyes came into contact with the monitor again, displaying the old man's name. "I thought he meant Janayitrita, but…" He took a few deep breaths, trying to keep his cool. "More pressing matters first…" He picked up the phone again. "Lieutenant, have you done it? Did you get velocity? Have you done it? Lieutenant, have you done it?"
"Affirmative. We'll see you in Utopia."
"Good luck." He hung up. "Let's go." But before they could leave the control room, the door slammed shut into their faces. Quickly, he drew the sonic, getting to work. "Get it open! Get it open!" he yelled at Jack, who furiously hacked through the layers of deadlock code.
Finally, the door slid open, but the short route to the lab was blocked by a mob of Futurekind. "This way!" Jack yelled, remembering the long way round from the schematics. He took the lead.
Chased by the savages, they raced back, and were met with… another locked door. "Professor! Professor, let us in! Let us in! Jack, get the door open now!" He drew the sonic again, starting their routine anew. "Professor! Professor, where are you?! Professor! Professor, are you there? Please, I need to explain. Whatever you do, don't open that watch!"
By now, Jack had finished cracking the deadlock, and so, the Doctor worked frantically getting the mechanical parts unlocked. "Hurry!" Martha yelled.
"Open the door, please! I'm begging you, Professor. Please, listen to me. Just open the door, please," the Doctor pleaded.
Seeing they wouldn't make it in time, Jack drew his gun and smashed the door controls, unlocking the door… just in time to see Yana dropping to the floor in front of the TARDIS.
But before the Doctor could reach him, the old man slipped backwards into the ship, slammed the door closed and blocked the lock against key entrance. Hearing the Doctor's signature tool against the lock, the other Time Lord stumbled towards the console and flipped two switches. "And deadlocked," he whispered.
No, no, no! This can't be happening! "Let me in. Let me in!" the Doctor yelled, hammering against the doors in panic. He stepped, nearly jumped back.
Behind him, Martha checked on the still body of Chantho. "She's dead."
Jack had very different troubles though. "I broke the lock. Give me a hand!" he called at the others. Martha left Chantho behind and went back to the door, helping him.
"I'm begging you. Everything's changed! It's only the three of us! We're the only ones left alive and free! Just let me in!" the Doctor yelled.
Inside the TARDIS, the other Time Lord struggled to stay upright, fuming. "Killed by an insect. A girl. How inappropriate." Making his way around the console, he felt the familiar buildup of Artron energy coursing through his body. "Still, if the Doctor can be young and strong like his time-forsaken abomination of a mother who fails to die, then so can I." He smirked. "The Master… reborn." Reaching into the energy, he let it loose, triggering the regeneration.
Outside, the Doctor watched in horror as the all-too-familiar glow of a regeneration shone through the windows, and hearing the other man's new voice screaming. Of all the Time Lords in the Universes, it just had to be him?!
Jack and Martha still fought with the door – the Futurekind had reached the lab, and was trying to force their way past the Torchwood leader holding the door closed. "Doctor! You'd better think of something!" he yelled.
Suddenly, a voice drifted through the TARDIS' external speakers. "Now then, Doctor. Ooo, new voice. Hello, hello, hello," the Master tested out the sound of his new tenor voice. "Anyway, why don't we stop and have a nice little chat while I tell you all my plans and you can work out a way to stop me? I don't think."
Martha looked up, startled. "Hold on. I know that voice."
"I'm asking you really properly. Just stop. Just think!" the Doctor begged.
"Use my name."
It had to be the only Time Lord about as kaput in the head as Rassilon without Omega, didn't it? "Master. I'm sorry," he whispered.
"Tough!" the Master snarled, starting up the TARDIS.
"I can't hold out much longer, Doctor!" Jack pleaded.
The Doctor however extended his screwdriver into remote control mode, trying to stop the TARDIS from leaving.
She wailed in his mind. Help me, help me, Doctor! I hate him!
On it! He tried it with force, frying the main control circuits, to no avail.
"Oh no, you don't!" The Master pulled the handbrake, severing the energy flow from the sonic to the console. "End of the universe. Have fun. Bye, bye!" He cut the speakers.
"Doctor, stop him!" Martha yelled. The two humans still fought with the door, and so she changed pleas. "Help us. They're getting in!"
Before the horrified eyes of the Doctor, his beloved TARDIS dematerialised. No…
TBC in Days of Reckoning II