This chapter is unbeta-ed, so I'm a little nervous about posting this. Please let me know if you spot any mistakes.
The Council on Gallifrey was in chaos as soon as Maxil, Commander of the Gallifreyan Chancellery Guards, reported that the Doctor's TARDIS had evaded the recall and disappeared from scans. An order was sent out to track the TARDIS down, but moments later, Maxil returned empty handed, stating that the last known location of the TARDIS was in a region of space known as Rondel.
"Rondel was the location of a burnt out Q star. It would have sufficient amount of quadral magnetism to shield anti-matter," said Thalia, who was currently the only female council member in attendance.
"Then that must be where the creature is located! We need to scan the area for a possible breach in the walls of the universe and close it before the creature could come through," said the Castellan.
"You are assuming, of course, that the creature is still there. The TARDIS disappeared from our scans. That alone suggests that bonding might have been completed. If that is indeed the case, then the creature could have destroyed the TARDIS to evade our scans, which means it could be anywhere in the universe by now. Closing the breach would be a waste of time and effort. Not to mention, we still need confirmation whether the TARDIS was destroyed or simply hidden," said Hedin.
"I have a theory," said Thalia. "The creature must have either created a gateway or used an existing one in order to come into our dimension. It is possible that the TARDIS might have gone through the gateway."
"Now that you mentioned it, I seem to recall an ancient legend surrounding that region. Arc of Infinity, I believe was what Rondel used to be called," said Lord President Borusa.
"The fabled gateway between dimensions…" Thalia muttered in a hushed awe.
"But if the TARDIS did slip into another dimension, then all we need to do is close the gateway. Whether the bonding is completed or not would be irrelevant. Without the Doctor, the creature would have no means to exist in our dimension," said the Castellan.
"But what of the Doctor? If the bonding was not completed, then we would be condemning him to a life in exile or possibly, death," Hedin protested.
"The alternative would have been a death sentence here on Gallifrey. Perhaps this is a much kinder fate for him. At least this way, he has a chance to live," said Thalia.
"Then it is decided. Commander Maxil, go back to Rondel and scan for any breach in the universe. See if you can find any traces of the TARDIS. If she has indeed slipped through one of the gateways, I want you to close it immediately," ordered Lord President Borusa.
Maxil saluted before leaving the Council Chamber to carry out Borusa's orders.
Rose waited for the Doctor to come out of the TARDIS, but the beloved blue doors never opened. She frowned. Why wasn't he coming out? What was he waiting for?
A nagging fear at the back of her mind wondered if he was having second thoughts. Did he suddenly regret coming here? Maybe he was preparing to leave again.
She waited for five and a half seconds before deciding she wasn't going to wait for him to come out. If he tried to leave her here again, she would give him such a huge slap that her mother's slap all those years ago would feel like a gentle breeze.
Rose took out her key and entered the TARDIS, then stopped dead in her tracks when she saw the dark interior. All the lights were off. The time rotor was dark and unmoving. This TARDIS was dead— or very close to dying.
Her heart hammered in her chest. Where was the Doctor? Was he hurt? Or injured? Or was he simply in there somewhere, looking for the power cell?
"Doctor?" Rose called out.
"DOCTOR!" Rose yelled out.
Still no response.
Fear gripped her. What if he's dead? Or so heavily injured that he couldn't even respond to her? She looked around for signs of him, but it was so dark in here that she could barely see anything. So, she opened the doors wide in order to let the sunlight in. As light streamed into the console room, Rose froze.
This wasn't the console room she was familiar with. The walls were completely straight. The indentations on the walls were larger and round instead of hexagonal. The coral struts were gone. The floor underneath her was solid instead of the metallic grating she was used to. And the console was very angular and looked a bit retro compared to the one she knew.
Had she got it wrong? Maybe this wasn't her Doctor's TARDIS.
Just then, her eyes caught sight of a dark lump on floor the other side of the console. She raced to the figure on the floor and knelt down. It was much darker on this side of the room since the console blocked most of the sunlight, but she could make out humanoid features and long-ish, 70's style hair.
"Doctor?" Rose prodded the figure. Was this him? Had he regenerated again?
The figure didn't respond. Whoever this man was, he was most definitely knocked unconscious.
"Doctor!" She tried again and shook his shoulders roughly, praying that he didn't have any broken bones and that she hadn't just made his injuries worse.
He groaned, then blinked awake.
"What happened?" He muttered, then paused when he finally registered her presence. His eyes widened in alarm. "Who are you?"
"Doctor?" Rose asked tentatively.
"Well, you obviously know who I am, so answer me now. Who are you?" His voice was stern. It was clear that this Doctor didn't trust her.
Rose froze and hid a pang of hurt at his tone. Was he really her Doctor? Why didn't he know her? Or was he an alternate Doctor? Or worse, a version of him who hadn't met her yet? Either way, it would explain why the console room looked so different from the one she knew. Looking at his suspicious eyes, though, she realized she had to do something quick to allay his fears.
"My name is Rose. I… I used to travel with you— or will travel with you. I'm not sure if you're a past regeneration of my Doctor or a parallel version of him. Either way, you clearly don't know who I am, but I promise, I mean you no harm," Rose said.
He frowned. It looked as if he didn't really believe what she said. Rose sighed. How on earth was she going to convince him she was telling the truth?
He opened his mouth to say something, then froze and looked around him. Alarmed, he sat up, snapped his gaze to her and said, "What have you done to my TARDIS?"
"Whu—? I haven't done anything! It was like this when I came in!" Rose argued.
"Clearly, something must have happened to her!"
"Well, don't look at me. Wasn't my fault!" Rose held up her hands defensively.
"How did you get in here?" He asked, his eyes narrowing accusingly.
"I have a key," Rose said as she held out her TARDIS key, which she still kept in a chain around her neck.
He reached out to touch her key and held it out in front of him. He frowned, then turned his head towards the door. It was then that he finally noticed the sunlight streaming from the door. He stood up and hobbled towards the door, then paused in the doorway as he looked outside.
"I've landed," he said in surprise.
Rose slowly walked up and stood next to him, but far enough away so as not to alarm this overly-suspicious Doctor who clearly didn't trust her yet.
"That's London. 2015," she said.
"London?" He turned to her in surprise before looking out again. This time, he stepped out fully onto the grass outside and spun around to look at the sky. Rose hurried out after him.
"London? Are you sure?" He asked.
Hope rose within her. Was he surprised by the zeppelins? If so, that meant the London he knew had no zeppelins, which meant this could really be her Doctor. Well, her Doctor from an earlier regeneration, it seemed. Either that, or he hit his head so badly when he came into this universe that he lost all memories of her.
"Yep," she replied while gauging his reaction.
"England? Earth?" He asked, just to be sure.
"Yep. Earth, England, Solar System, approximately 2015 years after the birth of Christ," Rose said while watching him closely.
"No, no, no. This isn't right. There shouldn't still be zeppelins in 2015. By now, you should have airplanes littering the sky!"
Rose's eyes lit up at his response. For the first time in years, she grinned happily. He really was her Doctor!
With a smile no one could possibly wipe out from her face right now, she sidled up to the Doctor and said, "I should probably point out that this is the Republic of England."
"Republic? What happened to the royal family?" The Doctor frowned.
"Apparently, there was a huge revolution during Henry VIII's time. People rebelled because of the persecution of Catholics and Henry was executed as a result. The royal family was abolished and the Republic of England was born," Rose said. Then, she added, "Oh, and the Hindenburg disaster never happened."
"I see. Well, I suppose that explains the zeppelins. But now the question is, how did you know about the Hindenburg if it never happened?" He turned to look at her in suspicion.
Rose felt a pang of hurt at his suspicion but tried not to let it show. He still didn't trust her, did he?
"You're in a parallel universe," she explained. "At least, I think you came from a parallel universe." She glanced at the zeppelins with a sad, faraway look in her eyes as memories washed over her. "I'm not from this universe, you see. Where I come from, London had airplanes instead of zeppelins. And we had Queen Elizabeth and a Prime Minister instead of a President."
"And how did you end up here?"
Rose opened her mouth to tell him, but stopped herself just in time. If he really was an earlier regeneration of her Doctor, then she shouldn't tell him anything about his own future. Wouldn't want to cause a paradox, after all. So, with a sad smile, she replied, "I'd tell you, but… I don't think you should know your own future, don't you?"
He frowned at her calculatingly, then nodded. "No, I suppose not."
They stood in awkward silence for a minute or so. Then, the Doctor suddenly blurted out, "The TARDIS!"
Before Rose could respond, he had already rushed back inside the TARDIS. She followed him inside and watched as he dug around in his pockets for something and began placing random objects on the console. So far, he had taken out a yo-yo, a piece of string, something that looked like a cross between a radio and a pocket knife, and a… banana? Rose giggled.
"What?" He paused and looked at her in confusion.
"Nothing. It's just… you're so… you." Rose grinned and nodded at the objects he'd taken out of his pocket. "What are you looking for, anyway?"
Rose took out her mobile and turned it on. It was still the same old phone she had since Canary Wharf. She didn't have the heart to replace it with newer models. There were pictures of her Doctor still stored in that phone. Other than the TARDIS key, it was all she had left of him.
"Will this work?" She handed her mobile to him.
He looked at her mobile in bemusement.
"Thank you," he said as he took the phone from her. He raised an eyebrow at the phone and said, "A bit outdated for 2015, isn't it?"
Rose shifted uncomfortably and muttered, "It was, um… the phone I had from my— from the other universe. Didn't want to replace it."
"Ah." He nodded somewhat awkwardly, then turned away and started walking towards one of the roundels on the wall. He popped the plastic cover open and used the dim light from her phone to help him see. Rose peered over his shoulders and blinked in surprise when she saw circuitry on the wall. The TARDIS she was familiar with kept the circuitry on the floor below the grating. Apparently, the Doctor had done some major changes to the TARDIS when he regenerated.
The Doctor peered around the circuitry, then raced to the console and popped open a panel underneath it that hid yet another set of circuitry. Just like before, he used her phone to help him see. A few seconds later, he got up and raced to yet another roundel and popped it open to see the circuitry behind it.
"Impossible!" The Doctor said in disbelief as he slumped down on the floor.
"What happened? Is the TARDIS going to be okay?" Rose asked.
"She's dead. Completely and utterly dead," The Doctor replied with such a forlorn expression on his face.
"But…" Rose thought back to the first time she and her pinstriped Doctor first arrived in this universe. Wasn't he holding some sort of crystal? What did he call it? Power crystal? No, that's not it. It's power… power… oh, that's right! "Power cell! What about the power cell?"
"Dead. All of them."
Rose stared at him in surprise and disbelief. "But… that's not possible… she… she can't be dead. She…. She's completely alive when I first met you. Are you sure you've checked everything? Maybe you missed something. A-a tiny light in a single power cell or something."
"They're dead, Rose. All the power cells are completely drained. I've looked."
Rose slumped on the floor next to him. Memories of her first and second Doctor rushed through her mind. What would happen to them now? With the TARDIS dead, this Doctor would never return to his universe. He would never meet her. And she… she'd be dead in Henrick's.
No… not even in Henrick's. Without the Doctor, no one would stop the Time War. The entire universe would probably be dead. She might not even be born. Her mother might never be born. Hell, her great-grandparents might never even be born. He never did tell her exactly when the Time War was in relation to Earth time. It could be anywhere in the past or in the future.
And this her? She would probably disappear… wouldn't she? Without the Doctor, she would never have set foot in this universe. Her mum, her baby brother, and Mickey would all disappear. Without her, the Doctor's, and Mickey's help, everyone on this parallel Earth would have been converted into Cybermen.
Rose glanced at her hands. She almost expected them to fade away, but they were as solid as ever.
"Then why am I still here? If the TARDIS is dead, you— future you —would never meet me. And I would never have ended up in this universe. I should've been erased from existence by now. So, why am I still here?" Rose said. She turned to look at him.
He looked at her in surprise, as if he was seeing her for the first time. His eyes brightened. For the first time since she'd met this blonde Doctor, he smiled.
"You know, that's a very good point. Perhaps this means I will find a way to revive the TARDIS and go home, after all. And eventually, meet you," he replied.
"So, any other ideas?" Rose asked.
"I could try and contact the Council ask for assistance," said the Doctor.
"The Council?" Rose frowned in confusion. She had never heard her Doctor— be it pinstriped or the one with the leather-jacket —talk about a council.
"The Time Lord Council," the Doctor said.
"I-in your planet?" Rose's heart thundered in her chest as she waited anxiously for his answer.
"Well, yes. Where else would they be?" The Doctor looked at her strangely.
"Right. Of course." Rose bit her lips uncomfortably when realization finally dawned upon her. This blonde Doctor had yet to face the Time War. His planet and his people were still there.
The Doctor raised his eyebrow at her reaction and asked, "What is it?"
"Hm? Oh, nothing. Just… thought of a different council, that's all," she lied. This was bad. This was very, very bad. They shouldn't even be talking to each other right now. What if she slipped and accidentally told him that his people were gone? Or what if she accidentally mentioned something that clued him in that some huge disaster was going to happen to his people? This whole encounter was a huge paradox in the making. She should go. She should really, really go.
Problem was, if she left him here on his own, how would he be able to get back? His TARDIS was dead. The Doctor might be a genius, but who knew how long it would take him to revive his TARDIS? Worse yet, he might not even have the means to revive the TARDIS on his own. If he did, he'd have done it by now, wouldn't he? If he couldn't get back to his universe, there would be a massive paradox that would affect not only Earth, but the entire universe as well.
Staying here with him could cause a huge paradox.
But so could leaving him on his own.
Besides, would she really have the strength to walk away from him? After five years of waiting, hoping, longing… could she walk away now? She had tried so hard to find a way back, but the Dimension Cannon no longer worked after Canary Wharf. This blonde Doctor could be her only chance at getting back to her pinstriped Doctor.
"Bad experience, I take it?" The Doctor's voice broke through her paranoid stupor.
Rose blinked. It took a moment for her to remember what they were talking about.
Oh. The Council. Right.
"Should I really be telling you anything?" She said with a smile that didn't quite reach her eyes.
"No. No, you're right. I shouldn't have asked." The Doctor sighed. Then, he stood up and started walking towards the door at the back of the console room.
"Where are you going?" Rose asked as she scrambled after him.
"The storage room. I kept some tools in there. The TARDIS might be non-functional right now, but her communications array should still be intact, if I could only find an alternate power source, I might just be able to contact the Council," he explained as he kept walking down the darkened corridors that were now dimly lit by the light of her mobile phone. She followed him down the maze of corridors until he stopped in front of a non-descript door.
He went inside. Moments later, he came back out with a lit torch and a tool box. He handed her mobile back to her. Now that they had better lighting, Rose could see that the walls in the corridors were flat and stark white. Even the doors were plain and rectangular. This TARDIS was so very different from the one she was familiar with. A pang of longing washed over her. She missed her organic, coral-themed TARDIS. Had her pinstriped Doctor changed the interior by now?
The Doctor led her back to the console room and pried open one of the roundels on the wall.
"Hold this, will you?" The Doctor said as he handed the torch over to Rose. She took it and shone it over him as he worked on the circuitry that he had exposed behind the roundel. He took out a small metallic box, then walked over to the console and ducked below it to open the panel underneath. There, he took out what looked like a palm-sized circuit board. Then, he sat on the floor, dug out pieces of wires from his pockets and began assembling all the pieces together.
Rose watched him curiously and noticed that he didn't even take out his sonic screwdriver, which was so not like him— well, not like his leather jacket and pinstriped self. Both her first Doctors were adamant users of the sonic screwdriver and would whip it out every chance they got.
"Don't you have a sonic screwdriver?" She asked.
"I did, but it was destroyed in seventeenth century London. Haven't got around to making another one yet, though I probably should… eventually," he said while connecting one of the wires from the circuit board to the metal box. After awhile, he finally completed… whatever it was he was making.
"Now, all we need is a power source." He paused and turned to look at her. "Have you got a car battery I could use?"
"Yeah. My car's not far from here," Rose said before getting up to lead him to where her car was parked.
That blasted ship! The Black Guardian seethed. He was so close! If it weren't for that interfering ship, the Doctor would have been well on his way to Gallifrey and on to a swift execution. All he needed to do was delay Tegan's flight for a day and the Doctor's demise would have been a guaranteed success.
Still, not all was lost. Without a functional TARDIS, the Doctor would be left vulnerable and unable to flee. It shouldn't be too hard for the Guardian to arrange for the Doctor's death. But there was still that blonde human to be dealt with. Unlike the Doctor's previous 'pets', this human had far too many resources and connections at her disposal. She would undoubtedly prove to be an obstacle. Before he could get to the Doctor, he must first get rid of the girl.
With an evil grin, the Black Guardian looked down the timeline and gave yet another little nudge.
The Tenth Doctor, dressed in his usual pinstripes, tapped his feet impatiently on the grating. What was taking Rose so long? It's not as if she had to dress up or anything. They were only going to visit Jackie. Maybe she changed her mind? He could think of a million other places he'd rather be than at Jackie's apartment. Ooh, they could go to Midnight! Bet Rose would love that! Best spa in the universe! Or they could go to Paxil IX and watch the herd of quillibees fly during their annual migration.
He paused in his mental rambling when he heard the sound of footsteps on the grating, followed by what sounded like something soft and heavy hitting the floor. The Doctor turned and saw Rose set down a large backpack on the grating.
"Wh-what's with the bag?" His hearts thundered in his chest. She's not… she's not leaving, is she?
"Oh, just some laundry for Mum," Rose said.
"Oh." The Doctor sighed in relief. "So we're, uh… we're still visiting your mum?"
"Don't start. She's been nagging for us to come visit. I've got at least a dozen missed calls from her, so we'd better come visit or I'll never hear the end of it." Rose looked at him pointedly before digging in her backpack for the bazoolium she bought at the asteroid bazaar a few days ago. "Besides, I still need to give this to her."
"You can always give that to her any time."
"Yeah, but I need my laundry done. You can't expect me to run around in smelly clothes all week."
"But I love your smell!" The Doctor blurted out, then froze in mortification when he realized what he just said. "Er… I mean, uh… you… you don't smell… that bad?"
Rose's eyes widened in surprise. "You like the way I smell?"
"Um…" The Doctor shifted from foot to foot. But before he could answer, the TARDIS suddenly shook, causing them both to stumble to the floor. Alarmed, the Doctor got up and hurried to the console to look at the monitor. When he saw the flight status, his eyes widened. "What? But… but that's impossible! We're in flight! That shouldn't even be possible!"
"Why? What happened?" Rose pushed herself off the grating and stood behind the Doctor.
"Something's pushing us further down the time vortex!"
"What, so we're speeding up?" Rose looked at him in confusion.
"No, not speeding up, but it's altering our course. Hang on!" The Doctor rushed around the console in an effort to steady the flight of his TARDIS. He could feel her struggling in flight. It was as if something's preventing her from landing in the right time. Frustrated, he took out the rubber mallet and hit the console. It didn't help, unfortunately. The TARDIS is still hurtling along. Still, he fought for control and eventually managed to bring them out of the time vortex. The TARDIS shook violently before landing with a bang.
The Doctor and Rose tumbled to the floor. Alarmed, the Doctor stood up to check the status of his ship on the console, but the TARDIS seemed fine. A little shaken, but otherwise undamaged.
"We've landed?" Rose asked as she slowly got up.
"Yes." The Doctor tensed up. Something wasn't right. Something felt very, very wrong. It felt as if time itself had been knotted up and ripped apart. Something massive had just happened.
"Doctor? Shouldn't we go see where we are?" Rose said.
"Yeah." The Doctor swallowed hard. Hesitantly, he reached for the doors and slowly creaked it open. Before them lay a city in ruins. Even the sky was dark and filled with murky clouds. Crumbling buildings and rusted cars dotted the empty streets. All around them lay charred and rusted metal poles and fences. Not far from the TARDIS were pools of melted plastic and fibreglass. Scattered among the ruins were pieces of charred metallic limbs. There were ashes everywhere, but no signs of smoke. Whatever had destroyed this area must have left a long time ago.
He felt Rose step out of the TARDIS to stand next to him.
"Wh-what happened? Where are we?" Rose looked around in horror.
He was silent. For the first time in his life, he didn't know what to say. There was nothing he could say or do that could possibly bring comfort to her right now.
"Hang on, is that…" Rose ran towards the nearest pool of charred plastic, then onto the melted fence. Her gaze snapped to a ruined apartment building not to far from where she stood. She froze. Her eyes widened in disbelief. "Can't be…"
The Doctor silently walked up to her. He watched sadly as her eyes began to recognize signs of what once was a familiar children's playground. Now, everything lay in burnt and melted pieces scattered on the dusty ground.
"Doctor? Where are we?" Rose spun to look at him. Panic filled her eyes. "Doctor? Where are we? We're… we're in a parallel universe, right? Tell me we're in a parallel universe!"
His jaws tensed. Instead of answering her, he walked on and picked a charred piece of newspaper— or what was left of it, anyway. The bottom half had been burnt away. Only the top half of the front page was left, but that was all he needed. He glanced at the date, then stiffened.
"What is it? Doctor?" Rose snatched the paper out of his hand. When she glanced the title, she gasped, then dropped the paper. Her eyes looked to the Doctor wildly.
"I'm sorry." He looked away in guilt.
"But… but… what about my mum? Doctor?" Rose's voice began to break as tears streamed down her face.
"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry." The Doctor drew her into his arms as she sobbed into his chest.
Lying forgotten on the ground was the charred newspaper with a date that read: London, June 5, 2007.
A/N: Yes, I destroyed London. Please don't kill me!
I was jumping from people to people in this chapter. The last scene was past!Ten & Rose right around Doomsday (I was hoping the bazoolium would clue you in). Before you lynch me, please put down your pitch forks and bear with me. All will be explained in the next chapter.
Just a heads-up, there will be more jumping around between Doctors in future chapters because, like I said in the summary, Ten's past is unraveling. I hope you won't find it confusing when I switch between Doctors. I tried to make it as clear as possible, but let me know if you still find it confusing.