For a moment all the Doctor could do was stare at him, silent and shocked. The Porter looked back at her almost apologetically—
—then the COPS let out a horrible blare like a siren, and the silence was shattered.
“Toddle up fizz fur,” they said. “Sert as spud.” Drawing themselves up to alertness, the two of them bolted out of the room.
“That’ll be you coming, now,” the Porter said mildly.
“Listen,” he added before the Doctor could respond. “We don’t have long. You must know who’s behind this aberrant timeline. What it is that keeps saving this world.”
The Doctor stared at him.
“Yeah,” she said. “It’s”—
—“Better that you don’t tell me,” the Porter said. “We wanted to find them to warn them; to say that the Doctor is coming. But you can tell them that yourself. Because it’s very unlikely that after this I’ll be alive.”
“The Doctor doesn’t kill.”
The Porter laughed.
“Good heavens,” he said. “You really don’t remember anything! Have you even worked out what this place is?”
The Doctor frowned, then gasped as she finally realised.
“Radiation poisoning,” she said, horrified. “Another future seeping in.”
The Porter nodded. “If the patients were already poisoned then no one would know. It’s why she made sure it was this ward they’d be kept in. A thin place; a frayed part of time and of space. Where the shadows of likelier worlds might slip on through.”
There was a horrible sound of clanking and banging coming from the corridor as they spoke. A sound like snapping copper and breaking wood, which said that the Doctor was coming.
“So that’s what she’s really been doing,” said the Doctor, trying to ignore the sound. “Investigating.”
“The biggest anomaly in all of time and space,” said the Porter. “The fact the planet Earth refused to die. But we don’t think she’s closer than us, to working out who might have caused it. That’s why it’s very important you don’t blurt it out.”
More clanking, zapping and breaking sounds came from the corridor. More portents of violence.
“I imagine she’d be pretty cross at that person,” said the Doctor carefully, “if they found out who it really was.”
“She’s a force of nature. Literally. She would annihilate them.”
“Yeah,” said the Doctor. “Wouldn’t want to be them.”
The Porter thrust his hand into a pocket and pulled out the CULLIS, throwing it over to the Doctor.
“Get this to my colleagues when I’m gone,” he said. “The COPS will show you the way. It isn’t much. But we’re going to need all we can throw at this, because the Doctor never loses.”
From the corridor came more horrifying sounds, and the Porter grimaced.
“Especially not when she’s angry,” he said.
“Why do you trust me?” the Doctor asked. “I’m her. You know I’m her. What if the way I’m acting now is only a bluff? Then you’ve given your worst enemy a weapon.”
“True,” said the Porter, “but if nothing about you has changed, then our cause will be doomed either way. When it is the only way left to a reasonable resolution, näivity is far from a sin.”
“With you, there is at least a chance,” he said. “Even though that chance might seem”—
—He trailed off as a shadow fell over the door—
The other Doctor strode into the room, a policeman’s helmet held in her hand. The helmet was splattered with goo, but her clothes and body were totally clean.
She threw the helmet to the floor; a horrible sound of metal against wood. And then, looking at them both, she smiled.
“Sorry to keep you waiting,” she said. “But I’m ready to see you now.”