The first time was a bit unsettling. It happened when she was on her own, walking from her car towards the structure housing the Torchwood offices. One moment it was day, the next it was night as she found herself in the middle of a crowded London street. Perhaps of all things, the crowd was the most unsettling part. Ever since the Cybermen attack, people scarcely left their homes after the sun went down. Rose spun around, trying to get her bearings and make sense of the situation, and finally found her answer when she looked in the sky: no Zeppelin. Before she could start to comprehend what had happened, she heard a sound she would recognize anywhere: the TARDIS engine.
Without a moment's hesitation, she ran, her heart beating wildly in her ears. She rounded the corner just in time to see the blue box fade away, screaming the Doctor's name. But it was too late, the TARDIS was gone.
Panting and barely containing a cry of outrage at this cruel twist of fate that had brought her back to him only to see him fade away, she watched as the sky started to shimmer around her and then suddenly, she was back.
The fifth time, she learned to recognize the symptoms: a tingling in the back of her mind.
The eleventh time, she learned that if she concentrated enough, when the tingling started, she had some control on the destination.
The fifteenth time, she realized she could conjure the sensation.
The eighteenth time, she found him.. but it was too late. She had chosen christmas because he had once told her that things always went wrong at christmas — and she had gotten a taste of how right he had been about that — but right from the moment she shifted she had felt that something was wrong. And then this redhead, someone she was sure she had seen before, had told her that the Doctor was dead. It couldn't be. Something was wrong, just very wrong.
Upon her return, she learned why. The way back felt like going through a meatgrinder, only less pleasant. Every single part of her body protested the shift, the pain so biting that she was thrashing on the ground when she appeared back in her own universe. Mickey and Jake helped her to a seat when the pain subsided and all that was left was a dull ache in her limbs. Despite their protests, she jumped forward again, then back. Until she understood.
This was not her universe. This was new. No matter how many times she did it, the pain never eased, as if her body were resisting the shift, but she had to fix it. She had to make Donna Noble turn left.
There were so many things to fix. Despite her own selfish reasons for wanting to find him, it was not why she had been travelling between the universes. She was searching for the Doctor because her Torchwood's slight jump ahead in the timelines - caused by the strain put on the universe by their previous attempts at crossing the Void - allowed them to see the darkness first. And it was coming to claim every single planet in every single universe.
Two words that held so much pain and so much love.
She had said she wanted to keep him safe then, she had so much love she had flooded everything with life. Jack. Earth. Him. It had killed a regeneration, that was true, but he wanted to live again; he felt there was a place in the universe for him. And now the Bad Wolf was still trying to keep everyone safe. This time, however, it was the whole of creation she held in her care.
The Doctor looked around him, hearing the cloister bell ringing in the back of his mind but barely registering it. He could also make out that Donna was fidgeting behind him, probably popping her head out of the doors to peer at the words that covered almost every surface of the market place. He was perfectly aware of everything that was going on around him, but one thought held him frozen in place. Rose.
Somehow, she had found a way to cross the universes and though there obviously was something very, very wrong going on, he doubted it was her travelling that had initiated it. If she had sent this signal to warn him, odds were that she was working to stop it. Rose Tyler, defender of the Earth.
Without a word, he reached behind him and pulled Donna back into the TARDIS, then shut the door and made his way to the console, heading for what almost felt like home: Earth.
Rose Tyler knew exactly what she would find when she shifted into the universe she had once called home, but it did not make the spectacle of it any less unsettling. London as a ghost town would never be a vision that would be easy to bear. Broken windows. Abandoned cars. Bodies.
Swallowing back a wave of nausea, she slowly made her way through the debris of a seemingly large explosion, clutching a large gun against her. Perhaps the fact that it was day only made it worse, because she could see every detail of the aftermath even more clearly. She took a deep breath in an attempt to calm herself, a plan that backfired quickly when the smell of burnt flesh hit her nostrils. Remembering her Torchwood training, she forced herself to remain composed and continued to make her way towards her target.
She did not see a single soul as she walked down towards the UNIT headquarters, nor did anyone stop her when she entered the large building. She had expected soldiers to be standing at the door, waving heavy ammo at her and threatening to shoot if she did not identify herself. The lightshow that greeted her when she reached the scan control panel made it obvious, however, that the building had not been breached. At least, not through that particular entrance. Entering the codename her Torchwood had transmitted through the Void using the holes that were quickly forming in the fabric of time and space, she took a deep breath as she walked into the scan, holding the gun tighter against her as if it were some sort of protective talisman. No matter how many times she had been told the scan would cause no damage, she could not help thinking that something so invasive could be harmful somehow.
A pair of brown eyes looked up from the screen and turned to a tall redhead staring back from across a circular console. "Yes?"
"Doctor Jones, you need to come with me."
Martha nodded, entering a number sequence to shut down the system she had been working on before following the guard out of the room. He led her to a nearby room, where a large screen displayed a computerized female silhouette that rotated, a column of numbers displayed on each side. In the bottom corner, the picture of a blonde she did not recognize was accompanied by a name she absolutely did. Rose Tyler.
Gasping loudly, she approached the control panel and entered a few commands, which brought up a video of the interior of the scan. The same blonde was looking up at the camera, carrying an enormous gun and mouthing words that were muted. Another set of commands brought up the audio and a slightly digital sounding version of Rose's voice echoed in the room.
"....from another universe, coordinates have been transmitted through the Void. I'm a friend of the Doctor's. My name is Rose Tyler."
"Let her in," Martha said without hesitation, turning to the man that stood beside her. He had said nothing after she had entered the room, but he had been looking at her with great attention. Rose Tyler was one of the names she had mentioned when debriefed upon her admittance to UNIT to do a full background check on her and as such, her superiors had called upon her the moment the scan had come up. However, as her superior pointed out, this was not the only reason he had asked her to come.
Martha's eyes went wide as she paid closer attention to the coordinates that were displayed next to Rose Tyler's scan, while at the same time the video display showed the young woman being admitted past the scan and into corridors leading to the control rooms. There were a few soldiers that remained in the building - most of the squadrons having been dispatched to protect people against the invasion, with only a handful left behind to care for the highranking officers, of which Martha Jones was now a part of. Reassured by the knowledge that her family had been brought into protection, she had been working on coming up with a biological defense system for the last 30 hours and she was starting to feel the strain of it on her body. But all thoughts of her sore muscles and burning eyes faded away when she saw what had caused her superior to request her presence.
"Oh my god. But that's...that's impossible. Must be a glitch, I just..." she muttered, her fingers dancing across the keyboard as she tried to reset the data, but the numbers stubbornly refused to change. With that, Martha was gone down the corridor, shouting orders as she reached up for her earpiece. She had rounded the corner when the Daleks erupted into the room she had been in just a few seconds earlier.