“So you really have no idea how any of this happened?” Rose asked. She was sitting against a wall along with the hysterical mother they'd rescued. She was now quite a bit less hysterical and had revealed her name to be Arvell. The boy w
as named Lyem and was now quietly curled underneath one of his mother’s wings.
Arvell’s huge brown eyes glistened as she answered. “None at all. Six days ago, the floods started. They come everyday around dusk and the destroy everything in it's wake. Then, around midnight the waters disappear. The damage and the debris remain, but the water itself just vanishes.” She turned to her son and handed him the cup. His little claws clacked against the earthenware cup. Arvell focused on her son's hands. He sloshed some of it down his front. The fur was now smooth and oiled so it simply rand down his front. Rose thought that was a rather nifty evolutionary trait.
“So, why'd he run out of the building for that? Didn't he know that it would be dangerous?”
Arvell nodded. “Yes he knew it was dangerous. But he'd left his favourite toy in our home. Silly little thing.”
“That's not--” the boy started.
“Shush child. And drink, I don't know when we'll be able to get more.”
Rose glanced at the child but said nothing. She wondered what he’d been about to say but continued to question Arvell. “But if the flooding has been going on for days, why did he wait until today to go back for it.”
She shifted and tried to disguise the move as discomfort, which didn't quite work. If she had been human, Rose would have guessed that Arvell was nervous about something. As it was her suspicions were leaning in that direction.
“We were some of the last to seek shelter here. I was sure that the force dome around our house would be enough to keep us safe from the waters and for the first few days it was. But I miscalculated and yesterday the shields failed. I grabbed my son and came here.” She stared at the cup in her child's grasp.
“You see what we've been reduced to? I don't Lyem's ever held anything so plain in his life. Neither have I, come to think of it. Few of our people still living have ever suffered more than a moments discomfort. That's sort of sad actually.”
She gestured to the room around them. “This is the Remembrance House. It's a sort of museum from the days of the Great Flood. It's the only building that survived the flooding entirely. So it's been kept just the same ever since. That’s my job you see, I’m the curator.”
Somehow this didn’t really surprise Rose. Arvell had the air of someone who was used to lecturing others. The woman continued. “It’s ironic that this is the only safe harbor from the current flooding. Sometimes I think we should thank whoever did this. Everything this place once stood for has been denigrated over the years. Our ancestors' deaths no longer mean anything but an excuse to party. Maybe this is some sort of retribution”
Rose didn't think that causing death and destruction was ever a reason for thanks, but she decided that it was best that she not mention that. Instead she latched on to the last thing that Arvell had said.
“Retribution for what?” But before she Arvell could answer they were interrupted.
The Doctor hurried towards them. “Rose! You know, I've just been talking to some of the people here and...”
“You've learned that the flooding started six days ago and last from dusk until midnight at which time the floodwaters disappear” she said in a deadpan voice.
“Well, yes, that too. But that wasn't what I was going to tell you, Miss Know-it-all. Hmmm, remind me to never call you that again.”
“Will do. So what is this amazing thing that you've discovered? I've discovered something too.”
The Doctor ignored her but took her hand and the two of them walked over to an empty (or as close to it as they could get) corner of the room. “Well, I found a woman here who was alive during the original flooding and she said something interesting.”
“What? What did she say?”
The Doctor shook his head. “No, I want you to talk to her for yourself and then tell me you think.”
Rose nodded. “All right, but I think you should know something.” She proceeded to tell the him about the conversation she’d had with Arvell and about Lyem’s attempt to tell her why he had really run out into the city. The Doctor nodded.
“That makes sense,” was all he said as he led her to the old woman. By now she was somewhat used the otter like features of these people and she thought this woman was a rather handsome example of her kind. Her fur was dark brown, shot with grey and her eyes were somewhat clouded. Despite the difference in their species, Rose would have known that this woman had lived a long time.
The Doctor bent down to where the woman was seated and spoke softly to her. “Myen. I told you that I would bring someone else for you to talk to.” He gestured for Rose to step forward.
She did and bent leaned down just as the Doctor had. “It's good to meet you ma'am.”
The old woman's nose twitched as she turned to look at Rose. “Oh, another Visitor. We haven't had many of your kind to visit us. The last one had to have been over fifty years ago.” Rose shot the Doctor a look.
“Human survey teams. Scout planets for resources, etc. They landed, saw that the place was inhabited and left.”
Rose shook her head. “That doesn't sound like us.”
“Well, they also realized that the Artesians were much more technologically advanced than they were. Usually a good reason not to upset the locals.”
“That’s more like it.” Rose nodded and turned back to the old woman. “The Doctor told me that you could tell us something about the last flood that occurred in this area? The one from two hundred years ago?”
Her nose and whiskers twitched, maybe in annoyance, Rose couldn't tell for sure. “Really, I don't know why he couldn't have just told you what I said instead of dragging you over here and bothering me again.”
The Doctor smiled. “Oh, Myen, you know you like it. It's good to have someone to talk to, even if it's just if it's just a pair of aliens.”
“Hmm.” A shiver ran down Myen. “It's quite cold in here.” Rose looked at the Doctor curiously. It was surprisingly warm in the stone room and that was without the benefit of a fur coat. The Doctor shook his head, telling her not to inquire any more deeply. She looked around for a blanket but she didn't see one, at least not one that wasn't already in use. And those who had them looked like they need them every bit as much as Myen. Rose gestured to the Doctor. He met her eyes and she motioned for his coat. He raised his eyebrows then shrugged. Rose straighten and gripped the coat on either side as the Doctor slid his arms carefully out.
“This should keep you warm for the time being. If things go the way I'm expecting, then you won't be here much longer.”
Myen nodded as she took the coat. “I suspect that even if things do not go as you expect, I still won't be needing it very long.” Rose looked at the Doctor who was staring at the old woman sadly and then Rose realised what was going on. Myen was dying. Somehow the Doctor knew that and the old woman did too.
“So...” the Doctor started, “The flooding?”
Rose glared at him. “You remember that little rudeness problem of yours? Well you're letting it show again.”
Myen simply shrugged. “Don't worry, child. I don't take any offense. There's really nothing that can be said to me that I haven't heard many times before.”
The woman took a moment to settle the coat around her. “A bit narrow, but I suppose it will have to do.” Rose glanced at the Doctor who was scowling. She grinned and gestured for Myen to begin.
“Well, on the second day of the flooding, when were still able to access some the satellite records I noticed something about this flood. Before it disappears, the waters cover the same area as the Great Flood. Not just a similar area; that would be understandable. I took the current images and overlaid them on the old pictures and I found that the boundaries matched perfectly. Not even a tiny bit of deviation. I mentioned this to some of my former colleagues but no one was inclined to listen. They were too busy discussing scenarios of, excuses me, alien invasions and the such. I could have told them that they should have been looking a little bit closer to home.”
Rose’s eyes narrowed. “Do you mean to say that whatever's going on is being done by someone here?”
Myen tugged the Doctor's coat tighter around her body. “Just so. I can't imagine why but I do believe that is the case.” She glared out at her fellow refugees. “People are suffering. People are dying. How can that not affect this person?” She just sort of collapsed into herself. “I just hope someone stops this.”
Rose took her hand into hers. “Don't worry, that's what we're here to do.”
Myen's eyes shone brightly as she stared into Rose's. “Well child, I think that you just might. Mind I don't see how when you've got this lump to deal with--”
“Oi!” the Doctor cried. Rose glared at him and he looked
“--but I'm sure you'll find away.” she continued as if there had been no interruption at all. “Now I'm tired and I think that I'll take a nap. You two go and do something constructive.”
Rose stood up slowly, her legs having stiffened. The Doctor held out a hand and she took it gratefully.
As they walked away, Rose put her head on the Doctor's shoulder and asked “So are you ready to tell me what's going on or is it still not dramatic enough for you.”
The Doctor nodded. “I reckon the confrontation will make up for any lack of drama.” He put and arm around her waist and leaned closer. “Someone here is an absolute genius. Besides myself, of course”
Rose resisted the temptation to roll her eyes. “And how do you figure that?”
“You remember what Myen said about overlaying images?”
Rose nodded. “Yeah, what about it?”
“Well, that's what's happening here. Okay not exactly but it's the best analogy I can think of. I said there was something wrong with time her and I was right. The events of the original flood has been temporally displaced and laid over this time.”
Rose nodded a felt strangely relieved. There had been an underlying fear that this may be some natural if strange even. If that had been true then there was nothing for them to do, no way to help. But this, they could do something about this.
“We’re going to stop whoever’s doing this,” Rose said harshly. The Doctor pulled away and stared into her face. His eyes were flat and quite serious.
“Was there every any doubt?” His arm slipped around her waist and he pulled her close.
She shook her head. “Never.” The Doctor would never let people suffer if there was a way to for him to help. That was one of the things Rose admired most about him. She let out a small yawn. She tried to stifle it but the Doctor noticed led her to a patch of floor between a pair of ancient vases.
“Come one, get some sleep. We’ve got a big day tomorrow.”
Rose settled in next to him, her head resting on his chest. “What are we doing tomorrow?” She was beginning to feel more than a little sleepy.
“Well, I figure whatever’s creating the effect is somewhere people aren’t likely to find it, which is definitely not in here” The Doctor’s voice rumbled pleasantly in his chest. Rose closed her eyes and let it soothe her.
“So, tomorrow, we’re going to search the city.”