He could hear the sound of the TARDIS dematerialising, but even though he ran as fast and as hard as he could, Jack knew he was going to be too late. After everything he’d done in order to buy the Doctor enough time to carry out his plan, the one person he trusted and respected more than anyone in all of time and space was leaving him behind.
There was only one possible explanation; the Doctor and Rose believed him to be dead, exterminated, reduced to dust, not even a body left to cart away for burial. By all rights, he should have been; the Dalek had fired at him from practically point-blank range. The pain had been like nothing he’d ever experienced, he’d been certain that he was dying, and yet here he was, alive. Had the Dalek misfired somehow? Had he only been caught by the edge of its extermination ray? There had to be a logical explanation for the fact that he was still alive; obviously he couldn’t have been killed because people don’t die and come back to life, that wasn’t possible.
Confused, bewildered, panting harshly from his mad dash, he stumbled into the room on floor 500 where he’d left the Doctor working on his plan to destroy the Daleks with a Delta Wave, just in time to watch the TARDIS fade out of sight. He stopped dead, staring, the last tiny shred of hope he’d been clinging onto disintegrating to ashes, just as the Daleks apparently had. He was alone.
Jack searched the Game Station from top to bottom and back again, every single floor, every room, every closet, but all he found were piles of Dalek dust and the bodies of the deceased. He mourned the dead as he collected them, taking them to the lowest level; the brave souls who had stood beside him as the Doctor’s last line of defence, and all the innocents who had blindly refused to believe they were in any danger.
None of them had deserved to die, so why did he deserve to live? What made him so special that he’d survived while the lives of every other person aboard had been ripped from them? Their futures, their hopes, their dreams, their ambitions, all snatched away in an agonising instant, victims of the Daleks’ ruthless need to destroy all forms of life except their own. It wasn’t fair; not to them, and not to him, left alone to face an uncertain future.
With nobody left to monitor and maintain the systems that kept the station running, it wouldn’t be long before it started to shut down. Lighting, heat, ventilation, water filtration and recycling, food production; everything needed to support life would gradually stop working, and then he’d really be in trouble. He could manage for a while by diverting as much as possible to just one floor, sealing it off and shutting everything else down, it would buy him some time but it would only be delaying the inevitable. If he couldn’t get off the station he’d become just one more body in a vast mausoleum, adrift in space. It wasn’t a pleasant thought.
Nevertheless, he did what was necessary in order to conserve power, and salvaged as much food and drink as possible. He needed to sustain himself while he tried to figure out a way to escape the station. The transmat was of no use; it had been badly damaged during the Dalek invasion, and even if he could restore it to working order, he couldn’t be sure where it might send him. He either had to wait and pray for rescue, which seemed unlikely, or try to fix his vortex manipulator in the hope that it would have enough reserves of power to teleport him down to the planet below. One way or another, he was going to find a way to escape this bleak, empty place that still seemed to echo with the screams of the dying.
The plan worked, after a fashion, but his VM burnt out, leaving him stranded again. At least now he was on earth, where air, food, and water weren’t in such short supply. Somehow he’d survived his uncontrolled crash to the planet’s surface; he hadn’t really expected to but he’d take whatever luck he could get, especially considering that being alive was the only thing he had going for him at that moment.
He was on the right planet, but he was stuck way back in the mid-nineteenth century. Jack Harkness was a stubborn man though, and he wasn’t about to give up so easily. The one thing he knew for sure was that at some point the TARDIS, would need refuelling, and there was a Rift in time and space conveniently situated in Cardiff, where she could get all the vortex energy she needed. All he had to do was settle in there and wait as patiently as he could for his Doctor to find him, and then he’d get back in the game.