CHAPTER 1: YOU HAVE A PROBLEM
The night was filled with cries of laughter, as people crowded the streets. The city lights competing with the twinkle of the night sky as the parties grew louder. I let out a whoop, beer above my head. My hair was slowly escaping my hair tie and my coat was wet from the spill of alcohol.
Music blared and I took another drink, Cinco de Mayo rocks. My boots click against the asphalt as I finish off the beer and toss it at a garbage can. The world spins and I'm face to face with one of the guys I'd danced with earlier. No t-shirt, six pack exposed, my eyes fell on them for a moment before I realized that he was talking and looked back up at his rope necklace and back turned ball cap.
"Baby, you've gotta give me your number!" He yelled over the music and the crowds. My nose wrinkled and I turned away from him. Too annoying to keep around, he didn't strike me as the smart type. Probably had something to do with his fifth grade speaking and his need to abbreviate everything. No, explanation I weaved badly into the crowd, finding myself giggling in the middle of off-duty soldiers. Their digital tan clothing pointed to early twenty first century. My vision went blurry and I shook my head falling into a soldier.
His reaction was instant, he wrapped his arms around me and tried to pull my chin up so he could get a good look at me. My blonde bangs were started to tickle my eyes and he brushed it away. I gave him a cheesy grin, "What's your name handsome?" I didn't bother with a good pick up, I was skinny and blonde, something that was revered in this culture, it was subliminal that he'd find me dumb and pretty.
"It's Robert, sexy, you?" I took a moment to take in his short brown hair, and his particular height. I still wasn't quite used to anyone reaching over six foot. It was unnerving that I barely came up to his shoulders. He was cute, I suppose I can work past it for a night.
"Marie, cutie. You here for long?" Robert blinked, as if deciding the best way to get me in bed. I turned my eyes to the crowd as he made up his mind. This city had a large harbor and was a tourist trap, of course he was only here temporarily.
That's when my eyes caught it: spiked brown hair and a suit of blue. It was only his back, I couldn't be sure if it was him. I needed to talk to the nearest Gallifreyan stationed here. I put my finger to Robert's lips silencing what ever excuse he was spilling.
"I just found my date, thanks." I muttered, unsure if he heard it as I pushed out of the crowd. The man turned from the main road and into an alley. I stopped and grabbed a guy's beer from his hand and started running down the alley. I didn't make it far before I tripped over a garbage bag and tumbled to the ground. Letting lose some strings of profanity I whipped off my pants and picked the beer back up before it spilled out all the way.
"AICIT: scan for non planetary life forms." I spoke into my wrist, a heavy leather band around it with a blue screen on top. The screen beeped and pulled up a GPS, showing a white circle moving down the next street. "The only non-human signature for miles." It let out a young girl's voice.
I looked at it, sadness welling up in my throat for a moment before I swallowed it down. Tonight is Cinco de Mayo, no time for sadness. I took a sip of the beer, it went down warm and I felt better instantly.
I rounded the corner, beer sloshing at my side and the beeping on the wrist started again. I gave a shush and it stopped. AICIT at least knew what I meant, because I wasn't sure if that was really what came out.
At the end of the block, the man in blue walked into an equally blue box and I burst into a smile running after him. I had to catch him before he left, this was too good of an opportunity to let up. I grasped the door's edge just as he turned to shut it. With no tack the door flew open and I grabbed the collar of his shirt, pulling him into a kiss. He didn't move at first, then he began to move his hands up my arm, before he rested them on my shoulders. I was pushed back, a smug grin on my lips.
"Who are you? You smell like alcohol. Is that a vortex manipulator? You're a time agent, then? Did you read about me then want to see me in real life?" He didn't breath as he sputtered off explanations, several emotions falling over his face. I suddenly felt too drunk for this. I hadn't seen anyone with intelligence in quite awhile and to meet them drunk. I gave a blushed feeling a little embarrassed. He was smart and hot, I gave him a look up and down at that thought.
My eyes fell back to his lips and I tried to kiss him again, he was prepared and pushed me further back, "No," he strung out. "You're going to explain yourself first."
Deciding to keep with my flirting, I turned away. "Is that a promise?" I let my voice come out like silk.
The Doctor spun on his heels, his eyebrows furrowed together, "No."
I rolled my eyes, this was quickly becoming boring. He was a soldier, right? Letting out an angry sigh and stepped around him, taking in the blurry console of the TARDIS. Looks about right, backwards technology making one big advancement. A fleeting thought came to mind; only Time Lords have TARDISs. I shook it off, I was barely functioning as it was. It wasn't the time to focus on maybes. Besides, he would have corrected me, probably.
"My name is Marie, I'm from coordinates, Alpha eighteen and Delta five point one, with a frequency of eight-hundred and ninety megahertz." I spoke like I was reading them from a book, having memorized the galactic coordinates for my home planet. It was drilled into my head when I was young. It was better than any address, it insured you could get back to your planet. I didn't need it, why did I still remember it? That's what AICIT should be for.
The Doctor turned to me, his eyes flickering as he tried to think of exactly where that was. I gave him a soft smile, couldn't make it easy on him now could I?
He spoke, clicking his teeth, "I get the coordinates, but why the frequency of transition?" He took a step back, realization falling upon his face. It was cute. I took this pause to get another drink of my beer, sad that I was almost out. "Oh, you're from another dimension."
I waved my finger at him, beer still in hand. "Your good, most people just ask for a name." I leaned against one of the coral pillars, glad to have support to keep me up. It wouldn't be long before I'd need some more alcohol to keep me hazed, my fast metabolism was kicking in. It might have also been, the Doctor dampening my happy stupor and making me pull up logical explanations.
"So, how did you get through? They were closed off, no one was left to monitor it." I pushed off the pillar and started to walk around the console as he shut the door. He had decided that I was interesting enough to not kick out. . . Yet. I downed the rest of the beer and set it down on the seats behind me. He pulled out a screwdriver and ran it up it down my figure. I giggled, he was probing me. Probe, that's a funny word. I took a deep breath and calmed down. His eyes fell on the screwdriver.
"Well, whoever did that was a little thick. They left plenty of cracks to slip through." I muttered off, wrinkling my nose. I hated whoever did that, took months off of my work. I might have succeeded if they hadn't of closed us off. I blew hot air out of my nose and calmed back down, my cheeks turning red. Why did beer always make me crazy?
"So you turned up the hertz and crossed over to my dimension to what, Snog?" He said the last word a little high pitch walking back over to his console, flipping a few switches. I assumed he was starting to get angry. There was a reason I'd never gone here till now. Why did I think this would be fun?
I let out a scoff, "No, but it's a plus." I crossed the few steps between us and ran my hands along his collar. If I'm going to flirt, might as well make it good.
He grabbed my hand and pushed it away, turning to the console again. "I'll take you home." Panic began to rise, numbing my throat.
"No," I managed, grabbing for his hands. I had to stop him. He didn't know what was on the other side. How could he just run into a dimension blind? Did he even know where a crack was? I missed him as the TARDIS shook, making me stumble and fall onto the ramp. Laying on my back, I let out a groan of pain. I need to kick into gear. I can't stop him, then I'll stop the TARDIS.
"AICIT: manual control, NOW!" I yelled, my wrist flickering. "Attempting," AICIT spoke as the TARDIS gave another tremble. I growled and pulled myself up, flinching at the sound of the beer bottle breaking below.
"Stop it, you'll kill us!" I grabbed onto the pillar for dear life. He clutched onto the console, looking at me in shock. Well, he's useless. Next time I'll just ask for directions to Gallifrey.
"AICIT: take control!" I yell, my arms feeling like they going to be jerked out of their socket. After a long moment, AICIT's voice popped back up, "I cannot override."
The Doctor pulled himself back up, clinging to the console, trying to get control of the ship again. I could see him banging on it with a mallet out of the corner of my eye. I growled and started stumbling back towards the console before being knocked to my knees. "Why not?"
Fear was making me start to hyperventilate. I've got to calm down and fix this. "AICIT!" My voice wavers, not hearing her response.
"Sorry, she's arguing with me." AICIT sounded as confused as I felt. Great, we're all going to die because this TARDIS can't share. Does the TARDIS want to be de-atomized? I got back up and put a hand on the Doctor's shoulder, my fingers digging in as I tried to anchor myself. This was a lot harder than it had to be, why did I show up drunk?
"You stupid Gallifreyan, get us out of here!" I looked him dead in the eyes, hoping I'm properly expressing the danger that he'd put us in.
He opens his mouth to speak and the TARDIS gave another lurch. My eyes go wide and for a moment I feel weightless, my hand slipping away from the Doctor and I'm tumbling backwards. My heart leapt into my throat and I hit something solid, pain exploding into the back of my head and then it went black.
I sat down at my favorite cafe, it was only a few blocks from the lab. Only the owner was left working, but I didn't mind. Not many people were customers anymore. Andrew slipped into the seat in front of me, his eyes red and welled with tears. His blonde hair was growing shaggy and he looked like he needed a good wash. His clothes were wrinkled and I couldn't be sure but those may have been the same clothes he wore the night before. I had been so caught up in my work, trying to stop the end, that I hadn't stopped to pay attention to him in 6 months. Some way to treat your fiancee.
I look out the window to the street. I can't bear to look at his pain. It reminds me of how much I've failed. The whole of the universe rests on my shoulders and I hadn't made any progress.
I can feel him placing a hand on mine, "You have to save us. Please?" I slipped my hands out from under his, looking back to him. I couldn't answer him, I didn't want to answer him. No matter how much he pleaded, I couldn't make the technology any faster. We were slowly losing resources and I didn't know if I wanted to keep going anymore.
I walked out of the cafe before I broke down, before I gave up completely on the impossible. Two hundred and ten years old and I could count the days till I died.
I opened my eyes, the light stinging them. I was vaguely aware of the pain in my head as I sat up in a metal framed bed. A thin sheet had been placed over me, my coat and bag discarded in a chair. I placed a hand on my head, waiting for the throbbing to calm down. A head injury and a hangover. I was going to love this day.
"Good, you're awake." I let out a grumble, turning to the Doctor as he walked into the sterile room.
"Sadly, you have a good hangover remedy?" I stood up and the world gave a spin causing me to collapse. He ran up and grabbed me under my arms, lifting me back onto the bed.
"Steady, let your body catch up first." I felt like my skin was on fire, despite being in a tank top. I held onto the edge of the bed, more than anything wanting some good painkillers.
"What happened while I was out?" I spoke softly, my voice hoarse and scratchy from dehydration. I really need to treat my body better.
"Well, I tried to fly us into a collapsed dimension and almost couldn't get back." I gave him a weary smile, well at least that's the good news. I held back the urge to laugh at myself, I wouldn't have woken up if he had failed.
"Okay, so now you know I can't go home. I had meant to look for you when I was sober, but you were right there." Marie looked from her hands to his black rimmed glasses, he had a frown on his face, hands in his front pockets.
"Okay then, why were you looking for me?" He took off his glasses, pocketing them, his eyes kept glancing at my wrist. I didn't know if that would give me away, there wasn't many societies that were on the verge of developing dimension and time travel.
"I wasn't looking for you specifically. Just the nearest Gallifreyan. All I found was a man with a blue box. I tried entering in the coordinates to your planet and got an error. So, I need a ride or the right coordinates to the Citadel." I tried to keep my voice level. I didn't just want to go to the Citadel, I wanted to speak to the council of Time Lords. They let my universe die, cut them off. They needed to pay for that. I had depended on the dimensions being open, billions of people had.
"I can't. . ." He trailed off, his voice cracking. He just stared at me, it was unnerving.
"No," I stood up feeling stronger than before.
"You will take me there. They will pay for their crimes." My voice was soft and full of anger. He wouldn't keep me from them, no one would.
"Listen, I can't because their gone. The planet was destroyed taking every last one with them." My eyes went wide, no its not true. They killed themselves before I could. How, what caused this? I wanted justice, they abandoned us.
"I. . ." I couldn't think. I had to get out of here. I grabbed my coat, my skin tingling as claustrophobia began to set in. I had to get out of this TARDIS and now. I grabbed my coat and slung my bag over my shoulder. I didn't bother to look at him, ducking out the door. "AICIT, exit please." The bracelet beeped, showing a map of the TARDIS, but it was slowly changing. How could anyone stay on a living ship?
"Now wait a moment, you're not thinking." He trailed after me, I could hear his footsteps. I didn't care, if he was following. It wasn't his problem now, if Gallifrey was gone, this was all of my fault. The entire universe gone and. . .
"Please stop. Tell me how you know about the Citadel and Gallifrey?" I was whipped around to a very angry looking Gallifreyan. He had a firm grip on my elbow. "I've tried to stay calm, but you showed up drunk, asking for a ride to a dead planet. You are going to sit back down and explain it." His eyes, like a hurricane, threatening to tear me apart. My nightmares, put on hold for his explanation. Fine, if that's how he wants it. I gritted my teeth and forced myself to calm down, yanking my arm back.
"A century ago, a group of Time Lords mapped our universe. They gave us technology and culture for our complete history." I let out a small laugh, it may have sounded more than a little crazy. I wasn't paying attention though. It was hard enough not to break down. I wanted to be alone, no one needed to see me break. It would make it too real. "How could we resist? I was apart of the committee and the first to read your books."
His anger turned to confusion. "You're lying, the Time Lords took a vow to never interfere and even if they did there is a strict policy they have to adhere to." He let go and started pacing.
"Yes, I didn't learn of your policies until long after the Time Lords left. I couldn't exactly ask why they did it." I pursed my lips together, I only knew things about Gallifrey from books, I couldn't be sure if I was even making sense to him.
He stayed silent for a long moment. He was weighing his options and I'm a liability. The fear began to return, if the planet was gone I had no reason to be here. I took a step back, he was still pacing. Good, I have a few seconds. I turned running down the metal hall. I had to get out, or at least far enough that he couldn't follow me.
"Oh no you don't!" I flinched at his tone, he wanted to catch me. Great, I made out with a psychopath. I pumped my legs, moving faster. "I can help you!"
I laughed, to hell with him. I'm not stupid. "I don't need help." It felt like years before that hall ended, opening to the console, I slid around it trying to keep from crashing into one of the coral pillars. I finally came to a stop, banging into the door. Without missing a beat I pulled on the lock, but it wouldn't budge. I turned with my back to the door. An animal trapped into the corner came to mind as I watched him slowly walk forward, hands up.
"Open the door." My voice was low and came out more like a growl than anything else.
"No." His hands went to the console and he flipped a switch. The doors behind me let out an audible click. I couldn't help it; I jumped.
"Who do you think you are? You have no right to keep me here." I balled my hands into fists, trying to keep my anger at bay.
"I'm the Doctor, the last of the Time Lords. You know just enough to get yourself killed and I'm not going to let you!" His anger was starting to rise with mine. Good, let him be angry. However, the fact that he's a Time Lord makes this harder to get away. He has far more intelligence than I give him credit for. A thousand different ways he could follow me came to mind. I didn't have time to worry about that. Once I was free I would erase my trail.
"Okay Doctor, why are you still here if Gallifrey was destroyed?" He turned away from me, pulling a lever, his eyes boring into the console.
"AICIT, somewhere sunny." The Doctor distracted again this was my best chance to leave. I didn't want to try this inside a TARDIS, but it was time to leave. A blue light enveloped me and the world slipped away.
I gasped for air, tumbling into hard metal. Groaning, I pulled myself up. Where was I? Should have been a little more specific.
"AICIT: where am I?" I looked around, flames lapping at my face. I gave a sigh, this was not what I had in mind.
"Mining ship in Earth's gravity. Time is by area 16:12 on December 24, 1935." The ship shook and I clung to the wall. Is it crashing? I pushed off and started walking down the hall. "Hello? Engineer, crew, anyone?" I picked up the pace and it shook again. A metal bar fell from the ceiling and a fire flew up from the metal grating. I leapt backwards, landing square on my butt. My lower back yelled at me. "AICIT, I thought I said sunny!" I was getting frustrated already.
"Marie, you shouldn't be here." I looked up, a brown haired man with his hair brushed to the side was frowning at me. I stood up, grabbing my coat in one swoop. "How do you know my name?" I couldn't help looking down at his tweed coat and bow tie. I would have remembered meeting him.
He gave me a quizzical look, a metal stick in his hands. "AICIT: how many times have we meet?" I took a step back at his words. No one was allowed voice access to AICIT except for me. I definitely didn't know him that well. What surprised me more was AICIT answered.
"This is number two for Marie." I glared at my bracelet.
"Traitor," I mumbled.
The man let out a snort, "Me or AICIT?"
I threw up my arms, frustrated, "Both of you, I don't know. Who the hell are you?"
He took a step closer, putting his hand on my shoulder. "Marie, stay calm. I don't need you to panic at my next words." He gave me a serious look, it made me squirm out of his hand. A mining ship exploding and he wanted to stop for a chat. Then again, I didn't look much better.
"I'm not promising anything." I was trying not to give into the rising panic of being on this ship.
"Marie, AICIT exists in all of time and space. What does that tell you?" I could tell he was backtracking. He didn't think that I understood and truth be told I didn't. Any information he was going to give me really should be ignored, but that itching sensation in the back of my head it told me to let him continue. I can admit it. I'm weak.
I scratched my head and took another step back, fumbling for my words as I tried to think on his statement. "I- I don't know." I took a breath, organizing my thoughts. "If a complete stranger shows up and knows AICIT, then I suppose I've crossed my own timeline." My eyes went wide, "If two AICITs are close to each other, I can't even fathom the reaction. I have to leave. AICIT-" He grabbed my shoulders pulling me inches from him. I had to leave and now. I'm lucky enough that I only met a future trusted- thing. I was spoiling my ending and the sad part is that I'm not sure if I can stop it from happening again. Every jump could become a risk.
"Marie, it's very important that you remember this. Your life may very well depend on it."
A/N: I forgot this before, but don't take anything Marie says about Time Lords seriously. Its meant to be inaccurate. She only has bits and pieces of information from books that were given to her. She never got to see Gallifrey first hand.