"Dead, the only form of escape. Plenty died, despite the whole outside Time business and the full life support. Being in a no place meant that even if they got out of their cells, the inmates couldn't leave the asteroid without outside help. But many preferred to die of starvation outside the pods than face what was in there."
"And what was in there?" asked one of the team. Jenny didn't know their name, and frankly, didn't care.
"Your worst nightmare." Came the reply.
The volunteers were looking more and more unnerved by their surroundings, Jenny noted, Professor Song obviously hadn't been honest with them about this expedition. She decided to humour the archaeologist, after all, if she was truthful about this place, and if Shada followed the MO of other Prison Planets, then any visitor; be they inmate, staff, lost tourist or otherwise, would have a bio record. An accurate bio profile of her father would make her quest a whole lot easier. She could use herself, but she wasn't sure how much the machine had messed with her genome. The diary that she took from the Library only told her his exact location when he bothered to mention it. He never stayed long enough for her to get there before he took off again. She had come close, many times. If he could get himself locked in a prison that wasn't sonic-proof she might just have a chance. She also needed to find out how the "Time Ring" worked. A long range teleport was an asset she needed. If his ship really had sensed her as his kin, thus creating her, perhaps she would allow her to teleport inside, as she wasn't a stranger in the strictest sense?
She was fed up with not seeing him, of being so close, yet too far. She had accumulated so many objects, so much technology with which to find him. So why couldn't she?
She was torn from her thoughts as they reached the end of the warehouse-place and found themselves at another dead end. And, surprise surprise, the old man was waiting.
"From the beginning of eternity,
To the end of time and space,
To the beginning of every end,
And the end of every place.
What am I?"
"It's got to be time related, right? If these people were Time Lords..."
"Pompous much?" Again the group were muttering. River Song just looked at Jenny, just as before. She wasn't even bothering to pay attention to the other team members, and Jenny wondered why they had been brought along at all.
"The letter e."
Instead of an opening, they were teleported to a round room, obviously a control centre place, loads of computers and buttons, just itching to be pressed. The old man was there, but he just stood, silent. Jenny felt herself being propelled forward as her colleagues were encased in a force field.
A blue light scanned her from head to toe. One of the screens lit up with an x-ray of her body, revealing her twin hearts and beat as she felt them pound inside her chest. Another screen flashed an image of her and began to draw what she assumed was her "family tree" as the humans called it. A double line upwards led to a face that was changing rapidly. If she hadn't spent Goddess knew how long on researching her race, she would have assumed it was scanning the database for matches. But she recognised each face, vaguely. These must be her father's other regenerations. Her guess was confirmed when a picture of messy brown hair, handsome face and twinkling eyes flicked onto the screen. The "tree" continued (why did they call it that, it was absurd), a dotted link towards the left and right, where black and white images of two women were changing. Below were more faces, more people. If she was reading this correctly, she had several bothers and sisters, and some nieces and nephews. There wasn't an image above her father's, just a round robin of forty or so faces. That was interesting. She noted that every face would change except hers. And every face barring the Doctor's and her own were in black and white. Deceased, as he'd told her. She thanked the Goddess that she had a photographic memory; it was possible this would be the only time she saw his (and her own) extended family.
She was so entranced by that one screen that she'd failed to see the many others light up. Each person from the expedition was separated form the group into their own force field, which glowed an angry red after a quick scan.
"Jenny!" River Song yelled, finally catching her attention. "Tell the computer to stop!"
Jenny tried to get the machine to respond in every way she knew, but the man would just look at her blankly.
"I don't understand, it won't recognise me!" she cried, wringing her hands. She couldn't reach the group anymore, and she got shocked every time she tried to hit buttons on the panel.
"Repeat exactly what I say!" River told her, face ashen. Jenny tried to repeat the gibberish that followed as best she could, after the last syllable, the old man intoned:
"Language setting changed. Earth English."
Immediately all the screens became legible and Jenny gasped. Every screen that was allocated to a team member had biological and biographical profiles, a list of "crimes" committed, a number flashed in the top corner, and a countdown was next to it.
"The countdown refers to the amount of time left for a pardon, then we will be automatically sent to our allocated cells; you have to tell the computer that we are not a threat." River Song stated as calmly as one could when faced with the prospect of an eternity of torture, without hope of escape.
"How? I can't talk to it!"
"You changed the language interface to English, it should respond now. Hurry!"
"Uh, Computer? Verbal command." Jenny said, crossing her fingers.
"Proceed." Jenny almost punched the air.
"The accused are granted clemency. Release them." She commanded in her best regal tone. (Why not play up the "Lady" part of her species?)
"Accused guilty of attempted sabotage of Shada's systems and an orchestrated prison break. Clemency suspended" Jenny cursed.
There had to be fail safes, security protocols, if she could only think
Suddenly she heard a clicking noise right over her left shoulder. And there was a voice, ...oh no...
"Jenny, you have to wake up! Now!"
Jenny entered the control room, determined. Her dad was working on the Tardis (again). He had promised to tell her about the Time War, but right now, she had a problem with the present, and seeing as the old ghosts of the War had waited Goddess knew how long already, a few extra minutes wouldn't kill them.
"What's Shada?" She asked. The Doctor straitened up, surprised. Unfortunately, he was bent under a low beam, so promptly hit his head. Hard.
"Where did you hear about that!" He demanded, eyes flashing. Jenny, not altogether shocked by this response, decided that honesty was the best policy.
"I've been dreaming about it." The Doctor gaped. Any other time, his doing an impression of a fish would have been funny.
"Dreaming? About...Shada?" Jenny nodded.
"It's weird, like the Library cyber space, but not 'cuz that didn't work on me" she hurried, "I don't know, it fades almost as soon as I wake, but once I'm in the dream...it feels real."
"All dreams do."
"What happened in the Library didn't work because there wasn't enough space to accommodate your Time Lady consciousness. Given enough room, you wouldn't have noticed anything odd, except a vague memory of a dream long forgotten. Like Amy or Donna."
Jenny opened her mouth to tell her Dad that this wasn't very reassuring, but it was promptly filled with cake.
"I'll get the Tardis to run some scans, you're probably just picking up on some of my past fears or worries...A strong emotion imprinted onto the Tarids, which was rebroadcast to you."
"Isn't that how you would describe a ghost?"
"No, that's not how I'd describe a ghost. Ghost's aren't real so my definition of a ghost is "not real" " He looked at the console, adjusting a few knobs. "We'll be arriving on Midnight soon, better get yourself ready"
"But..." Jenny began, before sighing and turning away. She knew that her Dad knew that she didn't buy the explanation he'd given her. These weren't her father's suppressed memories that the Tardis had bounced around. She was fairly certain that River Song had been there, and they'd only just met her. Plus, she was looking for her dad again. She couldn't remember if it was because he left her, or because somehow, he thought her dead. No, he'd at least bury her himself right? Cremated, like was customary. She'd be dead even if she hadn't died. A premonition? Eugh it was fading...no, wait, that wasn't right. Seers saw with perfect clarity, sometimes going mad because they lost touch with the present. Meaning that she should "dream" awake, and she was sure that wasn't happening.
So, parallel world. Where she'd gotten herself killed on Messaline instead of Dad? How did that happen? It was absurd; Cobb had wanted the Doctor dead, the orchestrator of his defeat. Not her. She had only helped, and not much of that at the beginning. Cobb was the best shot of the platoon. No way would he miss.
Click click click
Jenny jumped and spun around. She was alone. But she swore she heard something.
The tell tale bump of the Tardis landing was her cue to get going. She wouldn't miss the sapphire waterfall for all the bananas of Villenguard.
Stepping onto the Crusader, Jenny settled next to her Dad, determined to enjoy herself. The only other person her age was a goth-looking boy sitting next to his parents and looking utterly bored. Jenny wasn't really upset about this, because she really wanted to quiz her Dad during the journey. Being distracted by people her "own" age, most of whom thought they could get into her pants just by being friendly for five minutes was just not her idea of a holiday. Her father switched off the entertainment as soon as he could, for which Jenny was eternally grateful. She wasn't so happy about the fact she now had to talk to the humans that were also in the shuttle, especially Professor Hobbes, who regarded her as a "silly little girl". She had to clench her fists and speak through gritted teeth to remain polite. Her father hadn't helped by pointing out quietly that, age wise, she was "little". The way the Professor treated his assistant was really unfair, and Jenny was sure the Dee Dee was far more intelligent than he made out. She found his presentation quite boring and very sketchy. Her Dad gave her the Look when she dared to question his findings. She sulked a bit, she couldn't help it if the Professor made wild guesses and convenient assumptions. He really set her teeth on edge.
Jenny was quite nervous about the break down, even more so when her father explained the situation to her telepathically. If nothing could survive out there, how could there be a shadow? A moving shadow? Midnight's sun made it difficult to perform proper scans, how did the humans know that there was nothing out there? Life will find a way...
Oh great, Jenny really hated it when she was right. The professor continued to claim that nothing could live out there, making Jenny suppress the urge to snap at him. Lighting a match in a room full of gunpowder was not a very wise thing to do. Jethro seemed to like the morbid goings on. Jenny could relate to that, if she didn't keep having déjà-vu moments, like she knew how this entire thing was going to play out. Ms Silvestry was in hysterics, as if she too knew what was going to happen. The knocks were continuing around the cabin, making Sky scream louder.
Jenny opened a telepathic channel to her father, but reinforced her mental shields as well and felt the Doctor do the same. If either got attacked, the other could help. Two were harder to take down than one; any tactician would tell you that. The link was the only weak point. It wasn't a cord or a line between their consciousness' that could be severed, it was more like two bubbles touching with a hole between them. But a hole was a hole, so it was still vulnerable. She thanked the Goddess that they'd spent some time reviewing this, after the episode with the Library, her Dad had wanted a way to contact her at all times.
The crash sent her sprawling onto one of the seats and she heard the crunching of metal. The other passengers had found torches and were all looking at Ms Silvestry, who was frozen with her back to them. The Hostess tried to contact the driver, but a blinding light greeted her as she opened the door. Grabbing her Dad's screwdriver, Jenny examined the circuits and to her horror, but not surprise, discovered than the entire front of the crusader had been torn off. They were helpless. She remained as calm as she could when she explained to the others, even staying polite when the Professor scoffed, saying that she couldn't possibly know how the shuttle worked.
The Doctor tried to placate everyone, but it was obvious that they were unconvinced.
Do you think the "knock knock" is inside or outside? Jenny asked her Dad, just before Jethro asked the question aloud.
I can't sense any more presences inside, but I couldn't sense it when it was out there knocking, so...
Is that bad? Jenny asked worriedly, trying to both check her shielding and lightly scan the other minds that were in the cabin. Nothing, all human.
Her Dad didn't answer her, as Sky Silvestry had finally turned around. But something was wrong; her face was completely different from the woman that had first entered the shuttle. Jenny's fears were confirmed when the lady began to repeat everything that was said. Unlike the humans, Jenny stopped speaking immediately. Nobody noticed, as she hadn't spoken much during the entire trip, mostly let them talk and play whatever character they thought she was. She wasn't impressed when her father tried to test the creature.
You do realise you just held up a sign that said "smart-ass" ? How do you know this thing doesn't want to suck your brains out?
How do you know she does? Anyway, if I was so clever, I would have stopped talking completely, like you.
I don't want to make myself a target. And I'm not sure that the creature is our only worry here.
Jenny shared her misgivings about the other passengers with her Dad, but he seemed sure that if he could convince them the Sky meant no harm, they would back off.
The Professor claimed that Ms Silvestry was just hysteric and needed to be left alone. Jenny wanted to shake him for the way he assumed his superiority, it was infuriating. Going with his (incorrect) assumption would have been wise, she admitted grudgingly, but no, her dad and Jethro had to ruin it by noticing that Sky was now talking in time with everyone. Jenny felt like saying well duh! when it was concluded that the person before them was no longer Sky Silvestry. It was clear as day from the moment she had opened her mouth.
What was worrying her was that she still couldn't detect any alien (non-human) entities in the cabin besides her father and herself. She felt like punching Jethro when he recalled how the knocking had followed the poor woman around the cabin. You should never speak ill of fallen warriors, or the dead in general. Sky would have died terrified, and accusing her of luring the monster here, like some sort of Jonas, was an insult to her memory. Jenny was feeling like more and more of the situation was getting out of hand, especially when her dad accidentally made out they were special.
"What's with her anyway? Why won't she talk?" Val demanded pointing at Jenny.
"Well, talking so far has only made it worse, so she's being smart and keeping her mouth shut." The Doctor replied curtly, waving his hand and glaring at her impertinence. Jenny came up with an idea. She grabbed her Dad's hand to get his attention and began signing to him rapidly.
Using sign language is an excellent idea Jenny, but not many humans know it anymore, few people are deaf in this era. Jenny felt her hearts sink, she was sure that this could have been the communication solution. Suggesting Telepathy to the Humans now would be akin to suicide, they had gone completely xenophobic, the way they had reacted to her Dad earlier was proof of that.
Meanwhile, the Hostess, after looking at the father/daughter duo suspiciously, suggested they throw the creature out. Jenny felt sick that they'd even consider such a notion. Dee Dee theorised about how it would work, which made Jenny rethink her previous analysis of the quiet girl. Her father, unsurprisingly objected loudly, and though she still wouldn't speak, she placed herself in front of what used to be Ms Silvestry. The humans were all convinced that killing Sky was the only way, and now they'd made up their mind, they weren't going to back off. They started attacking the Doctor, causing a loud mental argument between Jenny and her Dad, Jenny desperately wanted to put them in their place, but the Doctor wanted her to stay silent. He hoped that if she never spoke, the creature wouldn't latch onto her as a possible target.
Jenny growled openly when the humans suddenly came to the conclusion that they should throw all three of them out. She felt hate and anger rise inside her. It took all of her self discipline not to move, still hovering over Sky. Her father stood protectively over her, shielding her and preventing her from succumbing at the same time. Jenny's anxiety grew to such a point that she even considered impersonating the creature telepathically... a sort of way to give it a voice, without the repeating thing. Without her voice, she felt just as trapped as her dad, who was now facing some very violent humans.
Jenny finally broke her vow of silence when her Dad snapped the telepathic window shut on her. She stared, aghast as he started repeating what Sky was saying. What frightened her most was that the closure of the mental link was the only indicator that anything had happened. She still couldn't mentally detect any foreign presence in the cabin.
"NO! Come on, Dad, come on, you can't do this to me! I won't let you!" Her hearts were being shred to pieces, put through a blender and stamped on. She didn't care about the strange looks that was getting (they had neglected telling the others about their true relationship), and she cursed herself that she had not brought her dad's diary. Sure, it would take some explaining, especially if they asked why she carried it around, but she was sure that he wasn't lost, that he was screaming in there silently, unable to make contact.
Knowing that her Dad had far too much experience for her plan to work, Jenny forced herself to kneel in front of his prone body, grasp his temples and force their minds together. She felt her hearts break again as she mentally hurled herself against her father's barriers; she was repelled, like elastic as it snaps back after being stretched. Gasping she shook herself, and she realised that the humans were preparing to throw the Doctor out.
"So! Not content with murder, you're going to commit genocide!" she yelled at them hoping to scare them with her words, momentarily forgetting that they also weren't aware that they weren't human. They ignored her, like you would a screaming child who was demanding sweets.
Jenny pushed herself up and got into a protective stance. She felt despair and fear threaten to overwhelm her, but she held her ground, focusing on her adversaries and felt everything drain away.
"Move away Miss!" the Professor warned
"No." This was the humans' last chance; Jenny couldn't fight her emotions to stay rational for long. Gone was the despair, she wouldn't stand to feel helpless any longer.
"Move away!" demanded Biff.
"Not on your life!" Jenny snarled. She looked quite animalistic, and her eyes flashed dangerously. Biff lunged for her, but she dodged, landing a punch in the guts. He doubled over wheezing, while his wife screamed at her. Val made to attack but Jethro wisely restrained her.
"Nobody touches my father until the rescue team get here." Jenny stated as calmly as she could. In truth she was scared. Scared for her Dad, scared for herself, scared for the humans: her emotions were clouding her judgement and she couldn't think straight. A small part of her brain wondered if this was how her Dad had felt, when attacking the Daleks. They anger had drained a bit, but the hate and scorn were still very much a problem.
"Fine. We'll throw you out too!" Concluded the Professor.
Jenny was a good fighter. But defending someone so utterly helpless was nigh impossible in such a small space, against so many. The easiest way would be to kill, but given the situation she reckoned that would be both hypocritical and only make things worse. What was worse, she saw the trap, but couldn't do anything to avoid it. Val lunged for her, and the men, while she was occupied, grabbed her Dad and started hauling him towards the exit. Her restrainer was yelling at them to do the deed, Jenny meanwhile was cursing all the Gods she knew and pleading with them to stop and think about what they were doing. None of it made a difference. Jenny kicked herself free, just as Sky said Allons-y. Jenny felt a surge of triumph, her dad was still there. But none of the humans had heard him say that before, she realised, they were going to execute an innocent man.
Nothing new there then She thought bitterly, as she felt something connect with her left shoulder, and she feel into unconsciousness.
I'm sorry Father, I failed.
"Jenny, Jenny, wake up."
Jenny frowned. Those words normally meant she was in her dream world. With a pang she remembered what she'd left. Dad was probably dead by now, She was probably going to die very soon, when the stupid humans finally got around to shoving her out. She heard a sigh of relief from somewhere above her. She blinked, and the anxious face of her father swam into focus.
So, Am I dead, or have you decided to join me in my dream reality? She asked, resigned
No, definitely not dead. The Doctor shuddered, then eyed her quizzically. And what dream reality?
"Name all the planets you can think of, in alphabetical order. Go" He ordered aloud.
"Erm, Aaargi Major, Aaargi Minor, Abletico, Abt'cha, Acerlago Prime, Acfarr, the Adipose system, the Agrovan system, Aighin, Aleph, Algol, Alphabet, Alvega..."
"Enough," He laughed, ruffling her hair. Jenny smirked, ignoring the stares and the silence. They were safe, and she didn't want to return to the horror they'd just experienced, not yet.
"Your turn, name as many things as you can that... you think are cool, Go" she returned, playfully
"Bow-ties, Stetsons, Recorders, Celery, a Fez, Bunk Beds..."
Jenny burst out laughing, her giggles setting the Doctor off.
You could never fail me, Jenny. She heard in her head. She smiled at him sadly, and allowed him to hold her tighter. She felt his hand comb through her hair as he rocked her gently.
The Doctor explained telepathically exactly what had happened while he was cut off, up to the time she spent unconscious. Jenny held him close. This had scarred them both. So much for Father/daughter bonding time, as Amy had called it.
What was the Hostess' name? Jenny asked, once the tale was over.
"I don't know" said Hobbes ashamed, and Jenny realised that she'd spoken aloud.
The Doctor and Jenny spent the rest of the way back in their own little bubble and acted as if they were the only two people in the room – although they communicated exclusively telepathically. The Doctor started to explain about his long history with the Daleks. He wouldn't talk about the war until they were back in the Tardis, but, he argued, comprehending the political situation at the time was crucial to understanding why so and so decisions were taken when perhaps others would have been more beneficial, with hindsight. Jenny knew that this was really a distraction from their current surroundings, but was more than happy to run with it. The rest of the passengers were silent, waiting. Hardly anyone spoke until they got back to the complex. Jenny ran straight to Donna and Amy, hugging them both. The humans' ignored them. Well, Dee Dee stopped and fidgeted as if she wanted to say something, but in the end she gave up and left.
Jenny saw Jethro watch them as she embraced her friends, his face portraying a look of longing. His family were obviously not as openly loving as hers, perhaps he missed that. She had no quarrel with him, but she did have a score to settle somewhere else.
A man from the complex was taking statements, and as Jenny thought, Val was there, protesting her innocence loudly. Blaming mind control from the unknown creature, and saying that she had done nothing, bla bla bla. Jenny decked her with one punch.
"Now, we're even. And you!" she said, turning back to her father "Don't you say a word, you're still on probation"
He did a mock salute "Yes ma'am." Before rolling his eyes and ushering them back towards the Tardis.
Perhaps plain old Rio wouldn't be so bad after all.
It would have been fun to see how the Doctor reacted to Jenny being the creature's target, but I'm not that cruel.
thanks JainaZekk621 for reviewing!
come on, double figures?