She'd really done it this time.
Jenny stared up at the ceiling, one side of her body stiff and on fire. Sixty feet. She'd fallen sixty feet onto concrete. Bloody Christmas holidays! Why, why did her father have to go to Christmas? Granted, the rouge Sesorax had been under her when she landed. It was mush now and good riddance, but she wasn't in great shape either. Leg broken in three places, two ribs broken, arm broken in two places and the collar bone on that side snapped. The bones were immobilized and healing. The pain was nothing much. But she was immobilized. She was pretty sure she was going to go mental.
Jenny fidgeted in the hover chair that kept her body free of contact with other surfaces. A trickle of unease and displeasure ran through her head.
"I can move a little, goddamit!" Jenny growled at the ceiling. The sensation in her head shifted into alarm. "And don't you dare call him again!" she exclaimed. It had been bad enough in the first two days, when her father wouldn't leave her side. He'd sat by her, constantly talking, asking questions. It had grated on her nerves; she felt like hell, and really all she wanted was to be left alone to deal with the pain and heal. If she was really honest, she wanted it quiet because right now she felt weak and fragile, and everything above the sound of the ship and her own breathing felt like an intrusion, too much to deal with.
But you couldn't send the TARDIS consciousness away like you could a normal parent. The TARDIS didn't understand the concept of needing space, which made her, in Jenny's opinion, the most annoying mother in the universe. Whenever Jenny shifted, the TARDIS would either try to call her father or a glass of something with pain killers in it would appear beside her working hand. She was so tired of being fussed over.
Jenny sighed, letting her head drop back onto the force field supporting her. She was starting to get bored too. She didn't want noise or company, but she did want something to keep her mind occupied.
She glanced up as something in the ceiling whirred. A screen slid smoothly out of the panels. After a moment, a complex Sudoku puzzle appeared on the screen. Jenny frowned. "I hate those things. They get on my nerves."
The screen changed to a question: If I am given the sum and difference of two numbers, how can I find the original numbers?
Jenny's lips quirked in a small smile. "Too easy." She said aloud, but she played anyway. She liked these math games. It was how her father had taught her four-dimensional mathematics. She'd known some stuff when she'd met him; in fact her brain had a bunch of formulae crammed into it from the Machine as part of her Inheritance, but she didn't know what most of it was for. Her father had snorted and groused about 'bloody apes and their bloody mindless memorization approach' and what he called 'force-fed facts with no real point', and started playing math games with her, teaching her the rules along the way until she could do temporal calculations as easy as rolling dice.
Soon the screen was full of four-dimensional shapes that Jenny put together and pulled apart, rearranging them, playing with their volumes and time signatures, reorganizing them to make interesting patterns and then, for the fun of it, finding what the area or the diameter or the volume and gravitational weight of the separate shapes-within-shapes and the entire design itself was. But even that got old after a while. And she still wasn't done healing. Her father had told her that complete breaks like hers would take around a hundred and twenty hours to heal. And it had only been fifty.
The screen flickered with images of a number of vid-games that Jenny had started collecting, but she just didn't have the energy for games that required a lot of button pushing.
Books turned up on the screen. Jenny really liked the Terry Pratchett stuff, and in a few hours had read all thirty-nine of his books. She was still grinning when she had finished. Those were great. Sometimes she wished she read a little slower, so good stories would last longer. Her father talked about humanoid friends of his who could spend a day or two with the same book. That sounded relaxing, but she didn't know how they did it. And she'd only got through three hours.
The screen flickered, then reasserted a display. 'Image Banks'. Jenny was intrigued. There were sections for species identification, cultural identification, astronomic features, space-travel lanes from a dozen time periods. Jenny brushed up her knowledge. And then there was a folder marked 'personnel register' beside the symbol for the TARDIS herself.
"Personnel?" Jenny asked aloud. The folder opened.
The first picture showed the Walker, a little girl who looked around fifteen, which meant she must be about eighty, in a grey suit with a weird little hat. Another picture of her about a hundred years older. The image was labeled, 'Suzetathmelon epsilon pi, juvenile.' A few more images of her and an old man in various parts of the TARDIS followed. Playing games, even one pic of the two dancing. Jenny knew the old man was her father, but it was still weird to see him so physically old. The next image was labeled 'update: The Walker, adult. Full access' and showed a nice shot of Jenny's big sister sitting at the consol chair with her legs drawn up, smiling, and a pic of her helping Father with repairs. There was even a picture of her with her husband; his image was labeled 'Ramble, adult, incompatible'. Jenny smiled. 'Incompatible' was an understatement.
Then there were two humans, both labeled 'incompatible'; a dark-haired man and woman. 'Barbra Wright', the readout said, and 'Ian Chesterson'. There were a few pictures of them with her father, though he looked annoyed in most of them.
Then there was a thin blonde girl with a sharp smile, and a tough-looking man. Faces flicked by, so many. And a lot of them labeled 'Honored in Death'. A woman with a bitter-looking face called Sara. A girl called Anne Chaplet. A fun-looking girl in a page-boy hat that Jenny thought she would have liked. There was a picture of a boy playing bagpipes, and a scared-looking girl next to a fat little guy who looked like one of the three stooges. Jenny almost choked on her medicated drink when the labeling symbol marked the man as her father. "That was him?" she said aloud. In response a few more pictures of the short, fat little Doctor popped up, making Jenny laugh. In some pictures he was with a severe-looking dark-haired girl. "I am so not going to let him live that down!"
And then there were more girls. Father really did have a thing for the girls, Jenny thought in surprise.
There was a tallish military guy, and Jenny's eyes widened as she recognized the young Brigadier. Now Father's body was tall and well built and his hair was fuzzy white. And there was Sarah Jane, looking about Jenny's age, and K9, and this time her father was kind of bonkers with curly ginger hair and a maniac grin that made her smile in response. There was some woman that looked like a great fighter, a knife in her hand and tough leather for her clothes. Her father had so many friends. So many people. But he had been alone when he met her. Why?
There was a beautiful woman marked with about six titles, but one of them was 'Lord of Time'; the word in Gallifreyan was genderless. The name given was a full Gallifreyan title, and Jenny looked at the first section normally used for conversation. "Romana." She said aloud. She'd regenerated in Father's company, but both times she was lovely. She, too, was marked 'Honored in Death'
There was a beautiful android marked 'Honored in Death', more girls, a nasty red-headed humanoid. There was a girl called 'Ace' with explosives in her hands and a fierce grin that Jenny liked. For some reason, there was, apparently, a penguin. And her father went through more regenerations. Blonde and thin and sad-looking, then curly-topped and ginger, and old and portly again, then tall and thin and with long, brown hair and a soulful expression.
There was a doctor in a white lab coat, two people from the 1970's. And then there were three Time Lords, a Caieloe and two others from what were known as the Higher Races, each marked 'Honored in Death' All of them were shown in military clothes.
Then there was a girl with blonde hair and a little too much makeup. 'Rose', the readout said, 'Honored and Remembered.' Jenny cocked her head. That was a new one. Did that mean she was dead or not? She held hands in the images with the Doctor, and he carried himself like a soldier, his body tough and wiry with sapphire eyes. He was wearing the coat that Jenny used for cold-weather planets. She wondered why he had never mentioned it.
Now she knew the faces. Jack, being cute, and one image of him trying to get a kiss off the ninth body her father had worn. Jenny smirked. Jack really didn't change. Martha, her ebony skin lit by the reading lamps in the library. Jenny smiled at a picture of Luke. Mickey, then a pic of Martha and Mickey's wedding and their baby, and Donna's granddad. The Prime Minister of England, and Donna. A pic of a curly-haired woman, 'River Song', also marked 'Honored in Death'. And then there was a picture of herself, that first time she'd put her hand on the consol. She was marked 'Lord of Time', but was still labeled 'juvenile'
"Hey!" she exclaimed at the ceiling, "I'm not a kid anymore!" The sensation she got back was a mixture of love and amusement. Jenny rolled her eyes. The ship might as well have said 'Yes, you are."
She glared upwards for a moment. But her hearts weren't really in it. The screen flickered with images as she watched. So many people. So many people he'd known.
Jenny stared at the screen. So many had died. Humans weren't built for the kind of life they led. They were too fragile, too easily wounded.
But some had just gone off. Some even kept in touch. They still talked with Sarah-Jane, with Martha and Jack and the Brigadier and Doctor Shaw and Joe. But they all had their own lives these days. Which was fine. In fact, if you thought about it, it was probably good. Human life spans weren't all that long. If somebody stayed…
Jenny had never really thought about that. She had realized it in the abstract; humans live shorter lives. But if a human stayed on board with them for more than five years or so, they'd already be showing signs of aging. Twenty years and it'd be definite. Thirty…
Jenny lay her head back on the force field, staring at the ceiling.
"That's why he does it, isn't it? He doesn't want to watch them die."
There was a whisper of agreement from the ship.
"Search databanks," Jenny said, "species with similar lifespans to Time Lords."
The screen changed, showing about two hundred species.
"Show species physically compatible with Time Lords from that list."
"Show species emotionally and mentally compatible from the selection."
The screen flickered. Two species were shown. One was marked 'Do Not Contact.'
Out of curiosity, Jenny read the bio on the second species. Roumethan. Apparently, a very closed society in which anything non-Roumethan was believed to be unclean. According to the databanks, they absolutely did not mate outside their species.
The realization sank into her gut like ice, implacable. They were alone. She'd always known that they were the last Time Lords, but now she really, truly understood. Nobody else they could properly bond to. No other species they could become truly a part of.
For a moment, Jenny stared at the ceiling. Then she tapped the com-box on the table beside her.
"Father? Can you come in here for a bit?"