The Doctor was starting to get worried. The Movellans would be coming to at any minute, the mysterious Donna had still not come out of her coma and, to make matters worse, the Doctor remembered that he had left his Jelly Babies on the TARDIS console. His little escape from boredom wasn't going exactly as he had hoped.
At last, he heard something mechanical move outside and a few seconds later a red light began cutting through the door like a knife slicing though butter. The beam travelled across the entire doorframe and, within seconds, the heavy metal covering the exit collapsed to the ground with a loud clang, allowing K9 to trundle through into the room. 'Master,' he greeted the Doctor.
'Good boy K9,' said the Doctor delightedly, 'No time to explain, just make a quick scan of this woman's brain will you?'
K9 trundled over to where the Doctor had propped Donna and made a quick scan of her with his antenna. 'I am detecting two minds in this earth woman's brain, master,' K9 declared, 'One mind has been suppressed and displays Time Lord Characteristics.'
'Yes, but which Time Lord's Characteristics K9?'
This took the Doctor completely by surprise. How could a copy of his mind be in Donna? Was he in some way responsible for her being in this state? But how was that possible? He had never seen the woman before in any of his lives! But before he could dwell any further on the matter, the Doctor heard something thump the floor. He whirled around to see that the Movellan Commander was starting to move, very slowly at the moment. The effects of the energy blast were clearly starting to wear off and the Movellans' systems were beginning to recalibrate. Within minutes, they would be back on their feet and then the Doctor and K9 would really be in trouble!
'We'll have to deal with this back at the TARDIS. Come on K9!' said the Doctor, picking Donna up again in his arms, before dashing through the door, the ends of his scarf flying in the air behind him.
'Affirmative, Master,' acknowledged K9, who followed the Doctor out as quickly as his motor circuits would allow him to.
The twitching body of Commander Tarn suddenly jerked to life, his body sitting up and his eyes snapped open. His computerised brain whirred as he made a quick scan of his robotic circuits to establish if they had at all been damaged by the energy blast. The scans were completed within five seconds and a green light flashed in the corner of his right eye, confirming that there was no damage to his circuits.
Satisfied, Tarn raised himself to a standing position and surveyed the damage. The emergency fire systems had put out the fires, but most of the computers and monitoring circuits had been reduced to blackened, smoking metal. Tarn knew that these could be replaced, but this would mean a drain on their current resources and time, the latter being something that Tarn could not afford to waste. He turned to see another Movellan trooper getting to his feet.
'What is your functional status?' Tarn inquired. He wanted to have his crew at top efficiency, in case of sudden attacks, and he did not tolerate anything less than satisfactory.
'All systems fully operational, Commander,' the trooper reported, 'Initial scans also indicate that the other Troopers here will also recover from the energy blast.'
'What was the cause of the energy wave?' Tarn demanded.
'Before deactivation, my visual circuits indicate that the energy wave originated from the human female, Commander,' the trooper answered.
Tarn considered this information. The earth woman was clearly more dangerous than their scans had indicated, but she still possessed the intelligence that the Movellans needed to improve their Computer circuits. Tarn made a quick scan around the room, but could find no trace of the human.
'Once the other troopers are reactivated,' Tarn ordered, facing the trooper again, 'have a thorough search made of the whole ship. The human must be recovered at once!'
'What about the intruder Commander? The one designated 'Doctor'?' inquired the Trooper.
'He is deliberately attempting to sabotage our operation,' Tarn decided, 'so he is too dangerous to be of use. Order the troopers to fire on him if he is sighted. Weapons set to total destruction.'
Inside the TARDIS, the Doctor was thinking furiously. It had been fairly easy for him and K9 to get back to the Space-Time ship, but now he had to concentrate on saving the strange woman he had to carry all the way with him. He had no idea how she got a copy of his mind in her head, which most likely meant that she was from his personal future, which meant that what was happening to her was his responsibility. If she regained consciousness now, her mind would probably burn from all his knowledge of the Universe as her memories returned. But he had no idea which era she came from, so he could not get her home before she woke up, and he could not be sure how many more times she would be sent back into a coma, or what effect it would have on her already endangered brain. There seemed to be only one answer. The copy of his mind would have to be removed from her brain, but he couldn't work out a way of doing so.
'How on earth do you remove 700 years or more Time-Lord knowledge from a Human's brain without getting them killed?' the Doctor muttered out loud to himself.
'Insufficient data Master,' K9 automatically replied, 'Suggest that you consult TARDIS databanks for possible solutions.'
'Thank you K9, but it was a rhetorical question!' the Doctor said irritably, 'And I doubt even the Matrix has anything on solving Metacrises! All it contains is old Time lord memory patterns aaannnddd…' His words trailed off and a broad grin spread across his face.
'Eureka!' he exclaimed, snapping his fingers, 'That's the answer! K9, you're brilliant!'
'Affirmative Master,' K9 agreed as though this was already obvious. The Doctor dashed to the telepathic circuits on the TARDIS console and placed his hands on the two circular controls, closing his eyes in concentration. Standing there for a tense minute, his eyes opened with a look of satisfaction in them.
'There, that's the link with the Matrix established,' he said, before moving over to his old storage chest and starting to rummage through it, throwing various items across the floor, ranging from old recorders to Sontaran helmets. At last, he found what he had been looking for and very carefully, he extracted from the chest a peculiar looking headset with various wires protruding from it.
'The Chameleon Arch. I never thought I'd find a use for this thing,' the Doctor said, as he began plugging the Arch's wires into the telepathic circuits on the console. Once the wires were securely plugged in, the Doctor carried the headset over to the still comatose Donna, whom he had settled into an over-sized armchair, and he gently attached the Arch to her head. He then looked at K9,his expression turning to one of doubt and worry.
'Think it'll work K9?' he asked. The process was extremely dangerous. One little mistake and the Arch could intensify the Metacrisis instead of removing it, and burn up Donna's brain within two seconds. If Romana were here, she would describe it as suicidal.
'Probability of successful transference, 67%, Master,' K9 replied, having worked out what the Doctor's plan was.
'That low?' groaned the Doctor, 'Ah well, here goes nothing.'
He crossed over to the telepathic circuits and took hold of the transference switch with his fingers. After hesitating for a few seconds, he pulled the switch.
Donna's mind was in turmoil. Images of wasps, trolls, shadows and other nightmares kept appearing in front of her and through it all she saw a figure, a man that seemed so very important to her. And as more images appeared, her head kept getting hotter, and hotter, and hotter… She felt as though she had been thrown straight into hell, surrounded by monsters of all kinds and trapped in mortal agony.
And then all of a sudden, the pain stopped. Each returning image no longer burned her mind, and swiftly, years of memories were restored in her mind.
The Racnoss. The Adipose. Pompeii. The Ood Sphere. ATMOS. The Hath. Agatha Christie. The Library. Midnight. The Beetle on her back. The Daleks.
And Donna suddenly remembered what it was she was missing. Her memories of her travels with her best friend…
Donna opened her eyes and saw a curly-haired head with a look of genuine concern on his face looking down at her. 'Ah, feeling better are we?' asked the man, making a cheerful smile of relief.
Two things then happened that took the Doctor by surprise. Firstly, Donna's hand shot out and slapped him across the face, causing him to clap his face in astonishment. And secondly, she suddenly broke into a big grin and said 'What took you so long, Spaceman?'
'Who are you calling 'Spaceman'?' exclaimed the astounded Doctor, rubbing his sore face and beginning to wish he had never restored her memories.
Tarn examined the security screens, trying to find any trace of the two human fugitives. But the screens were severely damaged by the energy field the earth woman had used to immobilise them. Only screens 5 and 7 were working and they showed nothing untoward. It seemed unlikely that these humans could have left the ship without their knowing. And even if they did have the means, it seemed unlikely that they would leave without first rescuing the captured scientists, who were extremely important to the humans on Earth. Therefore, they would return to the prison cells.
He turned to his subordinate. 'Lieutenant Sev,' he commanded.
'Yes Commander?' replied Tarn's second in command, who was female in appearance.
'Take a trooper and guard the entrance to the prison cells. If either of the humans appear, apprehend the woman, but destroy this Doctor.'
As the Lieutenant moved to carry out her duties, Tarn considered what the humans' next move would be. In order to rescue their comrades, they would have to immobilise the entire Movellan force, and there was only one foreseeable way they could attempt this. And if they should do so, Tarn would be ready for them.
'Blimey, you really do change your appearance don't you! Not so sure about that scarf, but at least you're not as skinny!' Donna exclaimed excitedly. It all made sense now! 'Her' Doctor had to wipe her memories to stop her mind burning out, and ever since then, only her subconscious knew what happened and kept nagging her to remember.
And now that she did remember, she was quick to realise that that this Doctor hadn't met her yet, since he did not recognise her on the ship's bridge and introduced himself not realising how that knowledge would affect her. Another thing was that the TARDIS console room was completely different from the one she was used to. Itwas smaller in size, a bright white room, with larger, lit-up roundels built into the wall, with the entry door being similar in design, instead of the Police Box doors that could be seen from inside. The console in the centre looked less like a mushroom and seemed more constructed than organic, which for Donna made it look more hi-tech than the TARDIS she was used to.
Although she was overjoyed to remember the Doctor again, Donna could not help feeling really annoyed with him. What was he thinking taking away her memories, everything she had learnt from him, all those wonderful things she did. She knew that it was the only way to save her life, but still! If it were not for the fact that the Doctor standing in front of her had not even met her yet and had just restored her memories, she would give him an earful for wiping them in the first place, or rather second place from his perspective!But then a sudden thought crossed her mind. There was something about all this that did not make sense. If the Doctor from her time couldn't subdue the Metacrisis without erasing her memories, then how could this one do it with such obvious ease? And why didn't he remember her in the future?
The Doctor, on the other hand, had far more important questions to ask. 'What do you mean 'Skinny'? I can't possibly have changed that much surely? And I'll have you know that Madame Nostradamus herself knitted this scarf, and very proud of it she was too! Now would you like a Jelly Baby?' he finished, suddenly holding a paper bag out to her.
'What?' she asked, slightly taken aback by this sudden change of topic. Even 'her' Doctor didn't take her by surprise quite like this.
'Well, they're a confectionary back on Earth, you see,' explained the Doctor, ' made from sugar, gelatine and…'
'I know what Jelly Babies are, Dumbo,' snapped Donna, feeling more like her old self by the minute.
'Then why did you ask what they are?' asked the Doctor disapprovingly, 'Why am I wasting my time explaining what Jelly Babies are, when you could just as easily eat one and listen to me explaining what I just did to save your life? Wouldn't that be easier?'
Donna looked for a moment as though she might explode. Then she just smiled, took a Jelly Baby from the bag and put it into her mouth. The Doctor looked delighted at this and he then took a Jelly Baby himself and ate it.
'So what exactly did you do?' asked Donna.
'Well it was quite simple actually. After you, ahem, exploded back on the control room, I had K9 do a quick scan of your brain and he told me that you had a copy of my mind in there together with your own. All I had to do was get it out!'
'Well you seem to have done it, that's for sure,' Donna agreed. She now couldn't remember how to fix a fuse, let alone a Chameleon Circuit. 'But hold on. You said there was no way to get me back to normal, and I certainly remember it being impossible at the time!'
'Nonsense!' the Doctor retorted, 'All I had to do was create a link to the Matrix and transfer all that meta-crisis energy, along with my mind, from your brain into it. It seems they still haven't upgraded it's defences yet, lazy lot.'
'Sorry, hold on a minute… No, you've completely lost me. What the hell is the Matrix? Is it like the one in the film?' Donna asked.
'Well if you mean it's a giant computer used for storing Time Lord memories, then the answer is yes,' the Doctor confirmed, 'The Time Lords use it back on Gallifrey like a giant hard drive for all their knowledge of time.'
Donna's jaw dropped. 'You mean… you dumped it back on your own planet?' she gaped. Just this little knowledge made her realise just how far back she was in the Doctor's timeline. The Time War, Gallifrey's destruction… It hadn't happened for him yet. Which meant he was able to restore her memories with Time Lord technology that hadn't been destroyed yet. Technology that the Tenth Doctor was unable to use…
Donna suddenly felt herself in the same predicament as she did when she was in Pompeii. How could she stand by and not warn this Doctor of what was going to happen to him in the future? But she also remembered what happened when her own history was changed and the disastrous consequences that occurred for the whole world as a result.
'Of course I had the TARDIS erase some details from the meta crisis mind, just in case it held some dangerous knowledge of the future,' the Doctor continued, 'although, I am surprised that my other self, the one that travelled with you, hadn't already done it.' He suddenly broke into a toothy grin. 'So you're from my future, eh? What am I like, apart from skinny that is?'
'Uh uh, mate,' said Donna hurriedly, wagging her finger at him, 'No more sneak previews! Besides, we've got more important things to worry about, or have you forgotten about all those other kidnap victims?'
'Certainly not!' said the Doctor, looking offended at the very notion of abandoning all those other geniuses. 'We can't have Movellans hijacking Earth's greatest geniuses, I mean what will the universe come to?'
'So who are these Movellans any way?' Donna asked.
'A rather unfriendly race of androids who are currently stuck in a deadlock in a war against a race called the Daleks. The Movellans are planning to use Earth's greatest geniuses to reprogram their computers to make them less logical and break the deadlock.'
'And they thought I was their best choice,' Donna added, 'cause I had your mind in my head. So how are we going to stop them?'
'Well,' the Doctor grinned, 'I have an idea.'
'What a relief!' said Donna sarcastically. But she smiled, despite the seriousness of the situation. It was just like old times really.