River and The Doctor bolted down the stairs of the cellar in a hurried panic. Once they reached the landing at the bottom they found Amy, Rory and Daphne hugging each other, with a very confident Clara standing over Joe's body, the sonic still in her hand and pointed at his lifeless body.
"They turned our neighbor Joe into one of those... Dalek things." Amy pointed toward Joe.
The Doctor knelt down to check Joe's vital signs with his sonic while River made sure her family was alright.
"You find crazy lipstick lady yet?" Clara inquired a little too cocky.
"You know, your monikers are extremely cursory. And no we haven't," The Doctor grumbled and waved his sonic over Joe.
River continued for him. "But we found a burn hole – Dalek ships trying to get into this time."
"Cursory!? How so?" Clara shifted her weight in The Doctor's direction. "She's crazy and that lipstick is red-er than my aunt Linda's when she goes to the local on Sundays. Crazy. Lipstick lady." She put her hand on her hip.
The Doctor lifted up his sonic and checked his readings. "He's alive. But..." He looked at everyone else. "There's no trace of the Dalek inside of him... "
River approached and concurred with her hand link. "I'm not getting any traces of mirco-organisms, even in the air."
The Doctor was quite perplexed. "What happened to the Dalek?" He put his sonic back in his inside jacket pocket
Clara smirked. "It died."
The Doctor walked up to Clara as it was now obvious that she had been up to something. "What did you do?" he asked with his most inquisitive and concerned face.
"I remembered." She handed The Doctor back the sonic in her hand. "I used their own tech against them. Destroyed them from the inside." She was pretty proud of herself.
"Literally." He took the sonic from Clara's hand and flipped in the air and then caught it. The Doctor looked on her with delight. "Well, Clara Oswald you have finally served a purpose this go 'round." He teased her, but he was really very proud. "No more tag along on this trip, are we?!" He grinned large at her.
"Doctor..." River scolded his wrong choice of words.
"Oi!" Amy defended her friend. "Are you saying woman in general don't serve a purpose?"
"Everyone serves a purpose in this world, Amy, in the entire universe...everyone is important... and when they serve a purpose for me, well...all the better! " He turned to Clara again. "And you did brilliant. Just brilliantly!" He kissed Clara huge on the head. "Ohhhhh, you..." He rustled her hair.
"Watch the hair..." She put her hand up to her hair and set it right. "Are we not going to talk about the fact that you lied to me and locked me in a cellar?" Clara wouldn't have it.
"Couldn't avoid it. Had to happen. For your own good," The Doctor said quickly. He then addressed the whole group. "Okay, right, so bit of change of plans now. Amy, Rory, Daphne stay down here again."
Amy and Rory groaned. River was busy running scans on her computer.
"I wouldn't call that a change of plans," Rory pointed out.
Amy folded her arms. "I feel like the Rory this adventure 'round."
"Hey!" He took offense. "I'm right here!"
Amy jokingly hit him in the side and then kissed him on the lips. She turned to the Doctor who was taking a look at what Clara had done to his sonic. "You know I don't miss this. Saving the world. Not one bit. Is that strange?" She laughed at herself. "I do wish I had packed a book in that hurricane kit you made us put down here... " She poked Rory in the ribs. "...Mr Pond.""
The Doctor closed his screwdriver and looked up. "Like I said before, we need to secure this timeline as much as possible, and I want you alive to live it. So you need to stay here. And you don't need books, you have your stories."
"He knows all my stories..." Amy pointed at Rory who nodded his head in agreement.
"Daphne doesn't." The Doctor smiled and then addressed the group, gesturing wildly. "So, quick recap. Daleks. Check. That's bad. Big burn hole in the sky getting bigger every minute." River nodded at the Doctor while looking at her computer screen. "– could burn New York or the earth depending on how many ships they have. Also bad. And at a quarter past, young River arrives from the future." He took a breath. "So…I'd say it's time for us to…" He paused for a moment for what felt like effect. "Stand and deliver." He bobbed his head and gestured with his hands.
The entire group groaned. It was not the reaction The Doctor has expected.
"What? No. That was a good one." He frowned.
Amy folded her arms and looked at Doctor. "You picked this… of all times to use that one?"
Clara also folded her arms and looked at the Doctor. "How long you think he's been sitting on that one in his head, eh?"
Clara and Amy shared a look.
"Okay. Stop that." He pointed at both of them. "What are you doing? THAT… that is properly creepy. Stop that now."
"Doctor…" River pointed at her watch. "The time."
He looked at River who had now replaced her computer with her gun again. "Right." He looked at Amy and Rory. " Amy –Rory, take care of Daphne and Joe. Joe may be a little groggy when he wakes up. If he's looking for his wife you can tell him he can find her handcuffed in the flower bed – long story." He motioned to River. "River, with me, I'll need you again for muscle."
"With pleasure, Sweetie." She twirled her gun and put it back in its holster.
"Clara, the brilliant and the wise – my impossible girl, I need you in the Tardis to do whatever it was you did with this sonic." He gestured with the sonic in his hand and then tossed it to Rory who caught it. "...Into my entire dash and tech. We have the planet to save."
River and Clara ran out of the basement door first, followed by The Doctor.
"Wait!" The Doctor yelled out and River and Clara, a few paces ahead, stopped and doubled back.
"What are you doing?!" River shouted as she turned to see why he was waylaying them. "Time." She pointed at her watch.
The Doctor closed the door behind him and then took what looked like a combination lock the size of a large peach from his pocket and attached it to the cellar door knob.
"A proximity sensor?" River spoke as if reprimanding him for wasting time. " Whatever do you need that for, a sonic could disable that in moments. Let alone Dalek tech."
"Its not for Kovarian. Or the Daleks" The Doctor zapped the lock closed with his sonic and the sensor appeared to disappear from sight.
"What does it do?" Clara asked, but before River could answer, the Doctor answered for her.
"It will detect any life form that approaches the house." The Doctor put his sonic away. He then looked at his wife and spoke quickly. "Now, River, what I'm about to tell you, I need you to focus on the fact that I am telling you now and that we both agree we are running out of time. " He took a breath, "Clara and I ran into the Silence. In 2013. At Anthony's. When we picked up Daphne," he said very practically and waited for River's response.
"We did?" Clara was confused.
River was not happy. " Ohhhhh, you are lucky we are all in danger and I don't have the time to be cross with you." She huffed, "What did you do?"
"What did I do?! Nothing! They were looking for Daphne and the map."
"Eh, is anyone going to fill me in here?" Clara asked, but it was like she hadn't been heard.
River and The Doctor started for the door again with Clara trying to catch up behind them.
"You had to do something!" River continued. " They would never dream on coming back to earth after what you did back in 1969? Too big a risk."
"Eh, this is 1969?" Clara asked in a confusion.
"Unless the need outweighed their own personal risk. Think about it, River." He stopped at the door to the brownstone and threw his hands out at her.
River stopped too, almost causing Clara to bump into River from behind.. "You think the Silence are on the other side of that burn hole, don't you?"
"Don't know. Hate not knowing. But they'd have to know we're here."
"Kovarian getting back in their good graces, perhaps. " She took a breath. "Yes. Right then. Tardis?" River said pragmatically.
"Tardis." The Doctor answered. He then nodded his head at River and then at Clara to follow them.
River and The Doctor made a fast pace towards the door.
Clara made an exasperated face and dashed after them.
Clara, River and The Doctor ran out of the Brownstone as The Tardis came flying towards them.
Clara was confused. "I thought you left to retrieve the Tardis on the first go ?"
The Tardis landed in front of them.
"We got waylaid by a Dalek in human clothing." The Doctor snapped and the doors opened.
Clara, River and The Doctor ran into the Tardis. River and The Doctor took their position at the console and instantly began to pilot her, while Clara stood back not knowing what to do.
The Doctor directed her. "Clara take the control to my right and do whatever you did with my sonic – the Tardis will take care of the rest." The Doctor placed his spare sonic into a casing near the middle of the console to be formatted.
Clara smiled and did what she was told. She was excited to be able to work at the console as an equal to River and The Doctor. River smiled at her and she smiled back. The Doctor couldn't be happier to work with his wife and one of his best friends.
The Doctor continued with his tasks. "I think I can hone in on Kovorkian's sonic to track her. If it is indeed mine, each sonic admits its own signature."
"You really think she pried it from your cold, dead, hands, eh?" Clara asked, breaking The Doctor's good mood. The Doctor gave her a terrible look back.
"Sorry." Clara watched the Doctor get back to work and she did the same.
"So far no signs of The Silence…" River updated her readings to the group.
"No one is going to tell me who these people are? And why I don't remember meeting them?" Clara asked
The Doctor spoke quickly while he multitasked. "Short version. Aliens. Make you forget them if you're not looking at them."
"You both remember them."
River spoke up while The Doctor was preoccupied with the console. "Long story - but it took a bit of work on our parts."
"I think…" The Doctor dashed around to one of the view screens.
"Yes, I see it…" River nodded her head and moved a few buttons and levers. "Changing our location."
"Noooo….. noooo. nooo!" The Doctor all of a sudden got agitated. He backed away from the screen.
"What is it?" River yelled at him with concern.
"What now?" Clara asked.
"It can't be…" The Doctor stepped backwards.
"What are you blabbering about?" River walked over to The Doctor quickly and Clara did the same.
Clara saw it first: millions of little blue blips on the screen. "What is that?"
River looked on in shock. "They've all come." Her face looked as if she couldn't believe she could have been was so dense to have not sorted it out before. "But of course..."
The Doctor finished River's sentence as if Clara wasn't even there. "Millions of them. Every race in the known universe - all trying to get into 1969 New York!"
River's jaw almost dropped. "So imperceptible the Tardis couldn't even figure it out. The real source of the anomalies." She saw the litany of names scrolling down her screen. "Daleks, Sontarans, Terileptils, Slitheen, Cyberman -" her list was interrupted by Clara.
"I still don't understand how that is re-writing time?"
"It's not." The Doctor looked at Clara. "They've grown impatient. So they're inducing history." He paused. "Now." It was all making sense now to The Doctor, all of it.
River looked spent. "Daphne… The Silence - they were both red herrings."
The Doctor ran his hand over his head. "They can't do this! They will burn it from the outside in! Don't they know THAT! That many ships, that many engines phasing, they will shatter the universe, let alone the planet!"
Clara looked terrified.
River's face grew further worried as she gazed back at the view screen in front of her. "The burn hole, it's even bigger now… and growing... faster..." She looked at the Doctor. "Doctor…. Doctor?" He didn't answer in his agitated state. "Doctor, do you hear me?"
"Doctor?" Clara questioned to him like a wounded lamb. She opened her mouth to speak again.
"Doctor!?" Suddenly, another harried voice was heard, it was coming from the console itself – it was Jack Harkness.
This did not lighten River and The Doctor's mood. River stopped what she was doing and watched as The Doctor took out what looked like an old style trucker ham radio microphone from under the console. He and River both had the look of worried parents.
"Captain Jack, this is The Doctor, over and out, I'm in a bit of a pickle at the moment, is something the matter?"
There was some static and then Jack spoke. "They attacked without warning; I don't know how long I can keep them at bay." The sound of children screaming was heard and then the transmission went dead.
"Jack! Who?" The Doctor yelled. "JACKKKK!" But he was gone.
"He's gone." River said soft and harried. "I can't get him back..." She was working her magic on the dash, but nothing was happening. River like lighting snatched her vortex manipulator off her wrist and connected it to the console. "I'll do a relay through the manipulator, like Jack did." But her face fell. "It's not working." She stepped back. "The ships are creating too much static blockage for the signal to get through." River appeared to try a different tactic and took hold of another part of the console, but after a moment the look on her face made it clear that had failed too. "I can't even get you a communication link to the ships..." she hit a few more buttons. "They've closed all their communication channels." She was confused.
"Because they're not here to listen," The Doctor said in a morose tone and leaned against the rail guard between Clara and River. The Doctor looked down at his feet in a silent rage.
"I don't even understand how they are able to get through? The ships, I mean," Clara asked.
The Doctor looked at Clara. "Because they have access to the one DNA strand that is scattered over almost every known part and particle of the universe."
"Oh my god…" River got where he was going, but Clara was a still lost.
"Who?" Clara wanted to know the answer.
The Doctor looked at Clara deeply. "Mine." His face and voice grew further grim. "Irony at its best," he said in deep despair. "I am literally and figuratively the cause of their presence." The Doctor's face made it look like he might be sick for a moment, but it was just his own disgust with himself.
"Then leave!" Clara demanded.
The Doctor seemed to not even hear her.
"It's too late," River answered calmly. "They've already started; he'd never get out in time."
"I was wrong Clara. " He looked at her before speaking again. "You're not the dead cat. I am." His tone was dark.
River was lost to the reference, but then she was more worried about The Doctor's state than what he was saying.
"I don't understand." Clara directed her question to The Doctor and River. "How could they have done a scan that fast?!" Clara was frightened and confused. "You said- "
"They KNOW where I am!" he barked at her. The Doctor slammed his hand on the console and then hit the center of it with his other fist. He then screamed with frustration, "ahhhhhhgggugggggg!" It made Clara jump.
"Don't panic…." River assured him. "You always come up with a plan, we can stop them. Just take a breath, calm down. Talk to me." He didn't seem to be listening to her. "You can stop this from happening. Calm down!"
"Plans, plans… my universe for a plan…" The Doctor roared.
River approached him and slapped The Doctor clean across the face, causing him to sprout up and pay attention. "Don't go soft on me now." She took hold of his shoulders. "We need you now. Rory and Amy and Clara and Daphne and me… and Susan." River saw she had stopped The Doctor cold in his tracks. She let go of him. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said that, now is not the time to be sentimental. Now is the time for plans and saving the day, you mad, genius boy. Like you always do. Brilliantly."
The Doctor raged on. "What am I supposed to do, River!? In about ten minutes all those ships will break into this time and burn it to its core -" He pointed at the monitor. "… and if that wasn't enough everything and everyone I care about is in danger. ALL because of me. Maybe I'm not the solution, maybe I am the problem. Maybe I'm the trouble." He gestured hard towards himself. "How can I change that from happening, River, when I'm the cause?!" He was at his zenith of anger now. "You humans, you humans…. You always reply on me farrrrrr too much!" he seemed to say to no one in particular and left River's side with a great deal of speed.
River looked on like a wife who knew all her husband's ticks. "Oh, here it comes, he always insults other species when he's stressed," she said as an aside to Clara.
Clara was startled, not knowing what to say, as if she was watching her parents in an argument.
The Doctor spun around and faced River directly. "Ohhh and River Song, you rely on me most of all. Out of all of them! Why don't you come up with a plan for a change!?"
"Oh, really? We're going to do this now? Now? When the earth and the entire universe is burning and our family -" She pointed towards the door as The Doctor interrupted her.
"Seems a good enough time as any, eh?" he shouted sarcastically. "I have the time!"
"Alright." River approached him in a furry until they were face to face. "Let's do this. I did come up with a plan. A very good plan in fact. It was a brilliant plan. You said so yourself. But you had to come looking – you couldn't have just let it be. You couldn't have left well enough alone -"
Clara was becoming more and more anxious about the time they were wasting.
River continued talking. "I don't come up with plans? I think somebody's been spending too much time with my younger self. I rely on you just as much as you rely on me - we rely on each other - because... that is what a partnership is. That's marriage. But when it comes to the universe, I'm sorry to say, my Love, you have the most experience in this area. I'd venture to say the end of the world is your purview, is it not? But, nooo, let's just chalk it up to you being everyone's be and end all."
Clara couldn't take it anymore. "Are you two really using this time to have a domestic row?
They both turned and shouted at Clara at the same time. "Yes!"
River continued the fight while the Doctor seethed in silence, at times not even being able to look River in the eye. "You are my husband and the center of my universe, but if you haven't noticed I have my own independent life without you and nine out of eleven times I've been the one to save you, just as many times as you've saved me – spoiler there for you on that one. In fact, several times you wouldn't even be here, if not for me, I just don't take curtain calls. I'm no longer the girl who waited, I'm not my mother. Haven't been for ages now. But I'm relying on you now, dear heart. I'm looking at you and your superior knowledge and experience. So hunker down and THINK of something instead of throwing your frustrations out on other people and acting like a child! For god's sake stop embarrassing me!"
The Doctor spoke from the deepest point in his voice. "The only thing I can come up with is that I need to find a way to stop all of this from happening, before it ever happened in the first place, without creating a paradox!"
"Well, that's a start…" River encouraged him as if it was a breakthrough. After all, an argument was the best tactic River knew to encourage him to act.
"I don't have the slightest idea of a way to do that!" He threw out his arms towards her.
"You will!" River said with a great deal of reassurance and excitement.
"There are so many fixed points along this time line, River, it's like a minefield."
"Then scroll it further back!" She smiled.
The Doctor's face grimaced at her. Suddenly, there was blue blip on one of the view screens.
"Well, look at that," River exclaimed and ran back to one of the monitors.
"Kovarian." The Doctor approached the other screen with intent.
"Isn't that you?" Clara asked approaching the other screen between her and The Doctor.
"No, Kovarian's blue; I'm red. Sonic signatures are blue; DNA red. And that swarm of green are ships." She pushed her screen out of her view of the Doctor. "Look at me." River made The Doctor take her eyes onto view. "Are we good?" He didn't answer or look at her; he was focused on the screen near him. "Are we good?"
Clara noticed the Doctor's screen was now tilted away from her view as she approached closer to The Doctor.
The Doctor looked at River. "Yes." He took a small pause. "We're very good." The Doctor was strong.
"Good." River looked back at her own screen. "We have a sonic lock. You think of a plan; I'll get Kovarian, she may have the answers we're looking for."
Clara was now in clear view of the screen again, closest to the Doctor. The screen blipped again not once, but twice - two blips, one red blip and one blue – two people. Clara noticed, but had the Doctor, she wondered, and what did it mean?
The Doctor called to River. "Here..."
River turned her head and The Doctor took his screwdriver from the console and tossed it to her. "For protection." He walked up to her and took her face in his hands, kissed her fast and then released her, his fingers trailed through her hair as he pulled away.
River nodded her head, smiled and opened the Tardis door. She looked at Clara, "Take care of him, while I'm gone." She smiled at The Doctor again and then she was gone.
The Doctor lowered his head in despair. Clara watched him, wondering what he would do next. The dots blipped again and The Doctor took the screen into his gaze as if he had always noticed them. He then seemed to have resolved himself to something. He stood up straight, fixed his bow tie and manned the controls.
"Doctor?" Clara questioned.
The Tardis started to shake as if they were starting to dematerialize into Time or Space.
"Doctor? What are you doing?" Clara asked with concern as the Tardis started off again.
He didn't look at Clara, but she knew he was speaking to her. "I'm keeping my broken promise."
Outside, River heard the sound of The Tardis breaks, making her turn and see the Tardis begin to dissolve from her view.
"Noooo! No. " River knew what he was thinking now. She may have been one step behind him, but eventually she always knew. It should have been a clue to her, a big red flag, when he gave her his screwdriver and kissed her before battle. That wasn't him, yet knowing what he was up to now - it was all him. River shouted and ran towards the Tardis just in time to reach the door and bang on it as loud as she could.
"Doctor!" He heard River scream for him outside the Tardis; her yells in tandem with the sound of her fists banging on the doors. He imagined her palms were turning red.
The Doctor took a moment, his hand in mid pull of the final motion; he lowered his head trying not to let River's cries affect him.
"Doctor!" She banged louder. "Don't you dare, don't you dare…" she pleaded. The Doctor clicked a button and River appeared on his monitor from outside the Tardis. "Don't do this! You crazy, fool! You have no right! You can find another way. There's always another way!" She banged again, even louder than before, shouting his name over and over again. She was almost shrieking now, tears in her eyes. "Who do you think taught me that!"
Clara looked on frozen, her eyes filled with tears and emotion, but she kept the water from failing to her checks. She didn't know what to say or do.
The Doctor touched his fingers across River's face on the screen; still banging, still calling his name. He then softly and lovingly spoke to her, but of course she could not hear him. "I will never forget one line of you, Melody Pond. Not one line." A tear fell from his cheek. "My River Song."
Then he made the last motion towards flight, causing Clara and The Doctor to spirit off in the Tardis at full speed.
The Tardis appeared in front of eight year old Melody Pond. She knew the phone box from her studies, but she wasn't fearful, she almost felt happy, she felt saved.
12th November, 1969
"RORY!" Amelia Williams ran into the house cradling her eight year old crying daughter Melody, both their faces streaming with tears. "I found her," she cried. "I found her this time."
Rory in shock, tears now running down his own face, ran to his wife and hugged both his girls. They clung tight, but Rory lifted his head and looked into his wife's eyes. "What does this mean? Why isn't - I mean, why isn't time changing around us. Shouldn't this cause a paradox?"
"I don't know?" Amy questioned. "I don't know, " she cried with delight.
"If Melody is with us, doesn't that mean she won't grow up to be River - that we don't - I mean how is this all possible?"
They both heard the sounds of the Tardis outside.
Amy sprouted up like a shot and was out the door.
She couldn't see the Tardis, but there was a heavy wind and Amy knew The Doctor was there.
"Thank you, Raggedy man. Thank you!" Amy sobbed, as her hair blew behind her, looking up at where she knew the Tardis must be hovering. Her hair blew backwards and away from her face.
And now the purple dusk of twilight time
Steals across the meadows of my heart
High up in the sky the little stars climb
Always reminding me that we're apart
Rory appeared behind Amy, holding Melody to his chest, he was now crying himself. Within moments the sound of The Tardis and the wind were gone. Amy turned and took hold of Rory and their daughter.
"If she won't be River, who will she be?" Rory asked, concerned for the future.
"She'll be amazing." And Amy kissed her daughter's head. The Williams Family hugged each other for dear life.
You wander down the lane and far away
Leaving me a song that will not die
Love is now the stardust of yesterday
The music of the years gone by….
The Doctor stood over the console in silence, his body half hunched. Clara stood, tears running down her face - heartbroken for her friend. The only sound heard was the Tardis in mid fight.
Sometimes I wonder why I spend
The lonely night dreaming of a song
The melody haunts my reverie
And I am once again with you
It was then that the Doctor took the forearm of his jacket into focus and a strand of River's hair that was still attached to the cloth.
When our love was new
And each kiss an inspiration
But that was long ago
Now my consolation
Is in the stardust of a song
He swallowed and lightly and lovingly plucked the hair into his fingertips.
…The nightingale tells his fairy tale
A paradise where roses bloom
Though I dream in vain
In my heart it will remain
He stared at the hair between his fingers, crestfallen, with tears in his eyes. And then he let it slowly drift and float to the floor.
My stardust melody
The memory of love's… refrains
~Stardust By Hoggy Carmichael.