When the fires went out, only cold.
When the sky trembled and the dust rose
the screaming of the deathless ones, and all things fall before the oncoming storm
and the spindly trees shattered, and the birds broke and burned in flight
and the oceans boiled
and he is the architect of ruin, he the all-consuming fire
But the fires went out when there was nothing left to burn.
And in the space where a planet had been, the void.
And in the place where the voices were, the void.
And the void is hungry.
And the void is staring back.
And the void is cold.
He didn't really need the coffee, but Vetch was a creature of habit. Having inadvertently drenched the irate Ragusa with the first cup, he was deliberately and carefully nursing the second at a slow and considered pace down the north annex halls.
He wondered why exactly she'd been in such a state. Had he heard her wrong? She'd wanted Facilities to start in her office; had they been mucking around in the wrong section of the ducts again?
Judging by the sudden bizarre groaning and wheezing from around the corner, they were doing something.
Vetch sighed, making a mental note to sidestep the vent on the far edge of the upcoming turn -- among all the things he didn't really need today, it was getting blasted by rogue currents of air.
He rounded the corner and smashed his nose against a blue box.
Rose Tyler regained consciousness with her face in something damp.
She slowly picked the ancient cucumber sandwich off her face, staggering to her feet. The sight that awaited her eyes made her seriously consider donning the sandwich again.
If the TARDIS had been a mess of wires and cables before Jack had hotwired its brains to his tracker, it was now a bona fide disaster area.
She didn't even know all the roundels could simultaneously open like that.
" . . . harrrghhhh . . ."
Alarmed, Rose looked around for the Captain. He had fallen back into the open floor, where he stared up at the ceiling blankly. "Jack? You all right?"
He blinked, slowly. "Y'know, I think there's a bit more to flying this thing than the Doctor lets on."
"Your nose is bleeding."
"Trust me, if that's the only thing bleeding . . . How about you?"
"Could be better." She wiped some crumbs out of her eyes. "Light snacking saved my life."
She offered him an arm, straining to pull him out of the cavity. Upon his viewing of the TARDIS interior, Jack groaned.
"I'm sure the Doctor can fix it," she soothed. Inwardly, she was wincing.
"It was really nice traveling with you, Rose," he responded, dazed.
"Now stop that. Once this rescue gets straightened out, he's not gonna be in a position to kick anyone off the ship."
"He won't have a ship to -- "
Rose shook his shoulder. "C'mon. Time for a reccy."
There was coffee on the TARDIS door.
Rose's eyes flickered around the scene cautiously. Lots of natural light. Big, vaulted windows that ran all the way down to the ground. Brown water stains running down the walls.
Marble floors. Someone lying down, groaning.
She lunged at the figure, grabbing him by the lapels and hauling him up. "Right. Talk. Where's the Doctor?"
The man -- well, boy, more like -- mumbled something incoherent. Blood trickled out his left nostril.
She shook him. "I said, where's the Doctor?"
"Wish I knew -- could you get him?" he mumbled, his watery grey eyes slowly rolling away from the ceiling and down to meet hers. They stared at each other for a long minute.
"You're Facilities, are you?" he said, hesitantly.
Jack chose that moment to stagger out of the TARDIS, face still ashen. "The whole damn thing is just shredded. I don't know how the hell we're going to ever get this monster to work --"
The pasty kid blinked, then seemed to rally. "Oh, no. What've you been up to? The Director's furious --"
Jack blinked. "Who the hell's he?"
"Dunno. He was on the floor --"
A cough. "Could you please let go of me?"
Rose narrowed her eyes. "Don't you try anything. You make a run for it, and I'll --"
Jack stepped between them. "Rose, chill. This guy's in no condition for heroics."
The subject of their attention stared at him. "You should talk. Only reason my nose is bleeding's because I walked into this -- this whatever-this-thing-is you set up out here. What does it do, anyway?" He frowned, looking the TARDIS up and down. "Some sort of vent cleaner, I expect."
Jack and Rose exchanged glances. She let her hands go back to her sides, and the kid started fussing with his lapels.
Jack turned up the charm. "Right on. Nice to know someone in this dump knows what we do."
"Well, I only -- "
"Name's Harkness; this is my assistant, Tyler. They called us in to pump out the system, only we can't figure out where they wanted us to set this 'lil beauty up." He slapped the side of the TARDIS, grinning roguishly. "Can't raise Ed on the intercom, either."
Assistant? The hell.
"Ah. Well, I can't tell you much, Mr. Harkness, but the Director had some specific complaints -- well, I think she did; it was all a bit . . . strange . . ." His voice trailed off. "Er. I don't know exactly where they wanted you to set up, but I can probably find someone -- "
Jack leaned forward, leisurely. "Listen -- what's your name?"
"Er. Vetch. Augustine Vetch. I work in the Special Collection, under -- "
"Vetch. Nice name. Look, Vetch, I'm sick of dealing with those yahoos in Electrical; I want to actually finish the job before lunch this time. Just point me in the direction of the Director, I'll ask a few questions, set up my spiffy blue box, bada bing, we're done." He cranked up the smile. "Whaddya say?"
Vetch seemed as though he was remembering something unpleasant; a small tic twitched at the corner of his eye. "Well . . ."
Jack moved in closer. "Hey. You want the Director happy? C'mon."
That seemed to make up Vetch's mind for him. "I see your point. Well, I can take you to her office; I believe she was headed back there . . ." He shuddered. "This way."
When they'd fallen a few feet behind, Rose turned to Jack, hissing, "What the hell's going on?"
"Relax," he whispered. "I think we're in the Library."
"What?! I thought you said you got the signal right!"
He looked affronted. "I did. The Doctor's here, Rose. We just have to find out where, and my money's on this Director knowing something about that." He slowed his pace slightly. "Or at least where to start looking."
Rose eyed the green-suited form of Vetch, who was bustling hurriedly ahead and periodically dabbing at his nose. "I don't trust that guy."
"Geez, enough with the commando routine. He's a glorified book-shelver, for crying out loud." Jack shook his head. "For someone who wants to stick with the 'charm 'em and smile pretty' role, you sure have a nasty streak --"
"About that -- 'assistant?'"
Jack hemmed. "Well . . . 'companion' isn't strictly true, and I had to say something --"
She snorted. "And who's this 'Ed' character?"
He arched an eyebrow. "Every electrical department anywhere at any time has a guy named Ed working there. Proven fact."
Rose bit her lip. Dear God, sometimes this man was as bad as the Doctor . .
Ragusa stared into the depths of the water.
Her habitation pool was deep and cold. A human could easily drown in those depths.
She was not sure exactly why there was a strange man in the ductwork above her habitation pool, nor was she aware of why he started screaming and fell out.
She was rather inclined to guess that the reason for his not rising to the surface of the pool had something to do with the heavy metal strutwork that fell in with him.
He is standing in the middle of a vast and vengeful nothingness.
He feels cold.
He is alone. The voices are not here. The voices are all dead.
So cold . . .
He is not alone. He can feel it, so close, trying to find him. Trying to contact him.
Voices. Dead voices.
-- Not that space meant anything here.
Hard to breathe.
Wait. If it was looking for him, then it hadn't found him, so -- where was he?
-- A cold, dead place covered in ash.
He must be unconscious.
The Doctor's eyes opened to the cold and the dark.
It took him several heartsbeats to bring up the memory of what had happened a minute ago, which seemed to involve falling from the sky and hurting. Now, judging from the dull pain in his leg and the muted sounds and the general presence of wetness, he seemed to be underwater.
Whose office is this, anyway?
His respiratory bypass system meant that he'd been able to stay down this long without drowning, but he could feel a tightness in his chest that suggested he didn't have much longer. Jerking and twisting, the Doctor frantically attempted to free his pinned left leg from the metal grille, but it only groaned indistinctly and sent up a few clumped bubbles.
This was a very stupid way to die.
He threw himself upward, trying to upset the angle enough to break loose. Above him, he could just make out a faint circle of light -- but, even given that his depth-juding faculties were a bit taxed at the moment, the surface of the pool looked to be at least fifteen feet above him.
Something twisted in his ankle and he convulsed with pain.
This was a very, very stupid way to die.
Ankle throbbing, hearts stammering, chest constricting, the Doctor dizzily wondered if he'd go through all his regenerations in one fell swoop here in the bottom of the pool. Last of the Time Lords. Hah. Haahhhhh . . . .
I'm sorry, world. Sorry, Rose, my fault --
Shockwaves and a dull concussion of water.
The Doctor looked up to see the monster moving towards him.
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