The Wolf and The Flower @mia_marauder_potter
Rise of the CybermenAge of Steel

Rise Of The Cybermen/Age of Steel

"-and that weird munchkin lady with the big eyes," the Doctor laughed, grinning at Rose. "D'you remember the way she looked at you? Then she opens her mouth and fire comes out!"

"I was like, if you make me regenerate, I will shove my boot down your throat," Rose laughed, throwing her head back with a grin.

"Yeah, one minute she's standing there, the next minute," they put their hands up together and let out a matching roar. Mickey looked between them awkwardly, very lost.

"Where was that? What happened?" he questioned.

"Oh, they forgot about you," Ross called out when the pair froze. "Don't bother. Can lift your finger now, too."

"Oh," Mickey pulled his hand up from the console where it had been for thirty minutes. "Well, how long's it been since I could've stopped?"

"Ten minutes," the Doctor shook his head. Rose dropped her head on his shoulder and tried not to laugh. She did feel bad, but at the same time… she didn't. "Twenty… twenty-nine."

"You did forget me!" he accused.

"No, no, no, I was just- I was calibrating," the Doctor claimed. Ross pulled himself from the grating and clapped his hand on Mickey's shoulder.

"He forgot you. So did she, actually. If she'd been paying attention, she'd have told you that what you were doing became useless nearly half an hour ago."

"Well why didn't you tell me?"

"I was busy doing something actually important," Ross claimed, taking off his gloves. He dropped them on the console. "All fixed for now. We really need to pick up a new one, Doctor."

"Waste of time," the Doctor waved him off. Just as he said that, the console exploded with sparks, gaining screams from everyone inside. The Doctor and Ross ran to the console to work on it while Mickey was the only one to see Rose light up brightly and drop to her knees. He kneeled down in front of her in concern.

"The time vortex is gone!" the Doctor exclaimed, not looking back.

"Rose!" Mickey called, shaking her gently. "Rose, wake up!"

The Doctor finally turned on his heel to spot the woman glowing a bright gold, unconscious. As soon as he was sure they wouldn't smash into something and die, he ran over to her and winced. "Atron energy all around her, crazy high density. It's- it's rushing into her."

"That'll kill her!" Ross exclaimed. He tensed at the monitor. "Brace yourselves! We're going to crash!"

The three of them grabbed onto anything around them. Mickey and the Doctor held tightly onto Rose as well. Just as they crashed, Rose woke suddenly and the lights in the TARDIS went out.

"Oh my god," Rose groaned in pain, doubling over.

"Are you okay?" the Doctor questioned, grabbing her face in his hands. "Rose, are you okay?"

"I'm- yeah, I'm fine," she nodded. The atron energy had fully entered her body, leaving the only thing glowing her eyes. "What happened?"

"We fell out of the time vortex," Ross explained, making his way over to them. He extended a hand to Mickey, who took it and got to his feet. "We're… in another universe, but that isn't possible, right? So we're in some sort of no place."

"The Silent Realm. The Lost Dimension," the Doctor agreed.

"Otherwise known as London," Mickey laughed from the door. He stepped outside and Ross followed him curiously.

Rose tensed, suddenly very aware of where they were. "Doctor, the TARDIS- she's almost dead."

"She is dead," the Doctor corrected, looking past her even as he held her in his arms. "She's completely dead."

"No, she isn't," she disagreed. "She's just barely- she's still alive. If she were completely dead, I think I would be, too."

"That's why you passed out," he realized. He helped her carefully to her feet and the pair walked out the door to find their friends.

"London, England, Earth," Mickey told them with a laugh, looking around. He spotted a newspaper and walked over to it. "It's the 1st of February. This year. Not exactly far flung, is it?"

"This isn't right," Rose shook her head nervously.

"So this is London?" the Doctor said casually.

"Yup."

"Your city?"

"That's the one."

"Just as we left it?"

"Bang on."

"And that includes the zeppelines?"

The group looked up at the sky together to see the large metal zeppelins in flight all over the city. Rose ran her fingers through her hair in stress. Clearly, she wasn't dead and the TARDIS wasn't dead, but neither of them were doing too well. She felt sick and wasn't sure how to fight Cybermen in the state she was in.

"What the hell?" Mickey exclaimed. After a moment, he glanced back at them. "Okay, so it's London with a big international Zeppeline festival."

"This is an alternate universe, Mickey," Rose shook her head at him. "This isn't our world."

"Parallel Earth," Mickey breathed. "A parallel Earth only they've got zeppelines."

"Must be," the Doctor confirmed.

"I don't understand how we got here," Ross told them. "I looked everything over, there was nothing wrong with the TARDIS that would effect its flight path."

Rose stood still, staring at an ad on a bus stop.

"Must've been something wrong," the Doctor disagreed. "I didn't do this, I was just sitting there. The TARDIS wasn't even in flight, we were just sitting in the time vortex."

"Everything's the same, only a little bit different," Mickey continued on. "Like traffic lights are blue, Tony Blair never got elected-,"

"He's alive," she breathed, remembering the man that had taken on the role of her father.

"Rose," the Doctor said with a warning tone. "This isn't your world. He's not your father."

She resisted the urge to tell him that Pete was her father - that he'd been much more her father than the man who had died in their universe. Instead of replying, she turned around and buried her face in his chest. She hadn't missed him that much since the last time she'd seen him when they'd ended up in that alternate universe and she'd been accidentally thrown to the universe and timeline where he was still her father, where she'd been dead for a year already. "It's been so long."

OoOoOoOoOoOo

While Mickey and the Doctor went back into the TARDIS with the knowledge that she wasn't completely dead, Rose and Ross wandered off to a bench nearby. Rose stared down at her phone, watching the free trial play.

"You seem…" Ross hesitated. "This is familiar."

"Bad," she confirmed softly. "That man, my dad, he really became my father last time. When I ended up in this universe, he took care of my mum and I. He'd always wanted kids, you know. I know it isn't really him here this time, but it's… it's hard. We meet the Cybermen in a few hours - the same ones that help with Canary Wharf."

"...other news, the Torchwood Institute has published a study claiming that…"

Rose shoved her phone back in her pocket and got to her feet. Ross followed her, grabbing her hand within his own. The pair just made it back to the TARDIS when the Doctor threw some cables out of the grating.

"One little ounce of reality tucked away inside!" the Doctor exclaimed. He leaned down to pick up the lightly glowing thing.

"Enough to get us home?"

"Not yet," Rose answered, making her way over. The Doctor handed the small item over to her and watched as she craddled it in her hands and carefully pushed atron energy into it. "It just needs to be charged up. I can help with that since all of reality, all of the atron energy in the TARDIS is inside of me right now. I'd be Bad Wolf if I had any universe to cling onto."

"What did you give away?" the Doctor questioned, taking it back from her in concern. She shrugged lightly but leaned against Ross a little more.

"A small cluster of stars. No one will miss them."

"It's going out," Mickey said suddenly. "Is that okay?"

"I put it on a recharging cycle," the Doctor explained. "Rose can't go around doing that or it'll hurt her, maybe make her regenerate, and we don't know how well that would go in another universe where we're cut off from the Time Lords. It'll take a while, but it'll definitely get us home. Twenty-four hours is my guess."

"So that gives us twenty-four hours on a parallel world?" Mickey wondered, his eyes lighting up with excitement.

"Shore leave," the Doctor confirmed. "As long as we keep our heads down, easy, no problem!"

"Something's happening," Rose told them suddenly, eyeing the door. "Something we need to check out, Doctor."

The Doctor gave her a look of frustration. "You shouldn't go far, Rose. You're unstable as is. Remember that other universe? You didn't do great there, either, and they had their speed force. We should stay here. Rest."

Rose backed a few steps out of the TARDIS, pulling Ross along with her. "No, Doctor, you don't get it. My phone connected to their Cybus network and- something's happening. Tonight. We have to go."

"We can't get into trouble here. We can't intervene, this isn't our world."

"But these are still people!" she said hotly. "They're still human, they still need help!"

"What exactly do you think is going to happen?"

Rose looked from Ross to the Doctor hesitantly. "Do you remember Utah? The Dalek?"

The Doctor tensed. "Daleks are here?"

She shook her head quickly. "No, not Daleks. Before you touched the glass, Doctor. The other aliens down there. There was an arm of a Slytheen and- and the head of a Cyberman. You told me about Cybermen, Doctor, and I saw plans from Lumic industries for Cybermen, and then the blueprints of this house- we have to go."

The Doctor met her gaze, warring within himself. It wasn't their universe and therefore it wasn't their responsibility. Rose was fragile. But… she was also right. Cybermen were dangerous and since they still had no clue how they'd gotten there, the chance that Cybermen had brought them there was still out there and he had to check it out. "Fine! Fine, we'll go."

"I've got the address and everything," Rose assured him, gazing at Mickey. "Go do what you have to, Mick. We'll find you."

"No! We are not splitting up!" the Doctor yelled, looking between them as they began walking in opposite directions. "Rose, come back here! Mickey, come back!"

"I've got things to do," Mickey called back. "So do you."

"We should hurry," Rose told him.

The Doctor looked between them in stress. Absently he noted that Ross was hurrying after Rose, and he appreciated that because he was much too worried for her to leave her on her own. Finally, he turned to Mickey. "Back here, twenty-four hours!"

As he ran after her, he barely heard Mickey say, "yeah, if I haven't found something better."

OoOoOoOoOoOo

"They've got visitors," the Doctor commented. Rose nodded.

"It's Mum's birthday," she waved at the house. "They've got money. She'd be furious if she didn't get a party, you know her."

"Well, given Pete Tyler's guest list, I wouldn't mind a look," the Doctor decided. "All right, Ross?"

"Just wondering," the other man said. "How do you two plan to get inside if they've got such important guests?"

"How we get in anywhere," the Doctor looked at him like he was stupid. "We sneak in."

"Probably as staff," Rose agreed with a sigh. "Do we have to, Doctor? I've done enough serving in my life."

"If you wanna know what's going on, work in the kitchen," he defended, getting to his feet. "Let's go!"

Thirty minutes later and, sure enough, they were inside and dressed as staff. As soon as they got into the room with the guests, Rose nodded discretely at a man nearby.

"I saw a picture of him on my phone, he's the President of Great Britain."

"Huh, president," the Doctor nodded along.

"Excuse me, thank you very much," Pete called. Rose stilled. He looked different from how she remembered him. Not as happy, a bit more stressed. She supposed he looked exactly as he had when they'd first met. "-without any further ado, here she is. The birthday girl, my lovely wife, Jackie Tyler."

Jackie made her way down the stairs in a black dress that was maybe just a little bit too tight on her. She smiled at all of her guests and clapped her hands together. "Now, I'm not giving a speech. That's what my parties are famous for - no work, no politics. Just a few mates and plenty of black market whiskey." She let out a bright laugh with her guests. "Pardon me, Mr. President. So yeah! Get on with it. Enjoy! Enjoy."

"It's nice," Rose commented, her voice shaking just a little bit. "They've got each other, you know. I wish… I wish Mum had gotten that."

"Rose!" Jackie exclaimed. Rose looked over, narrowing her eyes as the woman picked up the dog. She remembered that dog. That dog hated her just as much as she hated it.

The Doctor laughing at her didn't do much to help things, either.

OoOoOoOoOoOo

"I remember her twenty-first."

Rose started and nearly dropped the platter of drinks she was holding. It caught the eye of Ross, who was just around the corner. She shook her head very slightly and looked at Pete. "Oh?"

"Pint of cider in the George," he said with a smile.

"Champagne, then?" Rose wondered.

"Might as well," he agreed as he took a glass from her. "I'm paying for it."

"I don't think my mum would ever allow herself to be forty," Rose commented with a small laugh. "She'd smack me if I suggested it."

"She'd get along well with Jackie."

Rose was fairly certain that they would not, but she didn't tell him that.

"Still, she's happy."

"It's a wonderful party," Rose complimented lightly.

"D'you think?" he wondered. She switched hands and gave him a thumbs up.

"You can trust me on this!"

"I suppose I can," he laughed.

"Yeah, my mum would love this party," Rose shook her head, remembering the party he threw for Jackie the first birthday she had in that universe. "I think anyone would, really."

"I bet I'd like your mum."

Rose hummed. It hurt to be talking to him again and she found it hard to keep the conversation going. Luckily, she found she didn't need to.

"Stevie!" Pete exclaimed. "How's things? How's it going at Torchwood?"

She watched them walk away together. She knew Stevie. He'd been in charge of alien tech - whether they threw it out, kept it, or gave it to agents to use. He'd been killed when the Vashta Nerada had come to the Torchwood building and it had left her as the only other expert on alien tech that they knew of.

OoOoOoOoOoOo

When the Cybermen came, Rose had been hovering by the french doors for a half hour. No one really noticed her missing because she hadn't been needed in the first place. When she caught sight of the Cybermen marching down the lawn, she felt sick.

Rose?

They're here, Doctor. On the lawn coming toward the house.

She jumped slightly when he touched her side, unaware that he'd been running toward her. They looked out the windows together. When the Cybermen smashed through windows to the back of the room, screams were heard and they lowered themselves slightly.

"Mister Lumic," the president said, disappointed.

"Mister President. I suppose a remark about crashing the party would be appropriate at this point, sir," Lumic replied through the comms.

"I forbade this!" the president reminded him sharply.

"These are my children, sir," Lumic explained as if that would forgive what he'd done. "Would you deny my family?"

"What exactly are these… things?" Ross wondered, coming up behind the pair. "Not just robots."

"Worse than that," the Doctor confirmed.

"Who were these people?" the president questioned sharply, angrily.

"It doesn't matter," Lumic replied, dismissing the question.

"Humans?" Ross wondered. "In metal armor?"

"No. They had their humanity taken away. Those are living brains jammed inside a cybernetic body with hearts of steel, all emotions removed."

"No emotions?" Ross frowned at them. Rose decided to answer that one.

"Humans aren't like Time Lords, Ross," she whispered. "We- they feel everything more. Care more. Emotions are removed because it hurts, Ross."

"I demand to know!" the president shouted angrily. "These people, who were they?"

"They were homeless and wretched and useless," Lumic snapped. "Until I saved them and elevated them and gave them life eternal… and now I leave you in their capable hands. Goodnight, sir. Goodnight, Mister President."

"We have been upgraded," a cyberman told them, stepping forward.

"Into what?" the Doctor asked furiously.

"The next level of mankind," it replied. "We are Human Point Two. Every citizen will receive a free upgrade. You will become like us."

"I'm sorry," the president told the cyberman, walking toward it. "I'm so sorry for what's been done to you." He turned around and walked by the others. "But listen. This experiment ends tonight."

"Upgrading is compulsory."

"And if I refuse?"

"Don't," the Doctor warned.

"What if I refuse?"

"I'm telling you, don't!" the Doctor said firmly, moving closer.

"What happens if I refuse?"

"Then you are not compatible," the cyberman informed him. The president got in its shiny metal face.

"What happens then?"

"You will be deleted."

OoOoOoOoOoOo

"Mickey," Rose gasped, grabbing Rickey. It took her a moment before she stepped back. "You're not Mickey."

"No offense, sweetheart, but who the hell are you?" Rickey asked sharply.

"Rose!" Mickey yelled. He ran at her and she looked just as he stopped in his tracks. "That's not me. That's, like, the other one."

"Oh, as if things weren't bad enough, there's two Mickeys!" the Doctor groaned.

"It's Rickey," Rickey gritted out.

"But there's more of them," Mickey said, looking at the Cybermen gathering around them.

"We're surrounded," Ross muttered lowly.

"Put the guns down," the Doctor ordered the group. "Bullets won't stop them."

They didn't listen.

The Doctor ran over and ripped a gun away from one of them. "You! Stop shooting! Now! We surrender! Hands up! There's no need to damage us, we're good stock! We volunteer for the upgrade programme. Take us to be processed."

"You are rogue elements," a cyberman told him.

"But we surrender."

"You are incompatible."

"But this is a surrender!"

"You will be deleted."

"But we're surrendering! Listen to me, we surrender!"

"You are inferior. Man will be reborn as cybermen but you will perish under maximum deletion. Delete, delete, delete-,"

Rose let out a groan and dropped to her knees as she lit up gold. Atron energy spilled from her and hit the cybermen, splitting them apart into atoms.

"What the hell was that?" Rickey asked, backing up from Rose, who collapsed into Ross's arms.

"Or how about instead, run!" the Doctor yelled. They did as he said with Mickey helping to support Rose. The Doctor grabbed Pete and dragged him to the van where everyone was gathering. Behind them, they slammed the doors shut and the van took off. A few moments later and everyone had settled somewhat.

"What the hell happened to her? What'd she do?" Jake asked loudly. He watched with everyone else as the atron energy slowly fell back into Rose. "Why's she… glowing?"

"Ah, an unfortunate side effect of us being here," the Doctor muttered, moving over to her. He pointed his sonic at her and winced hard. "Not good. If she does that again, she might die."

"She has nowhere to put it," Ross agreed, leaning his head back against the van.

"So we don't have a weapon anymore?" Rickey asked sharply.

"Rose is not a weapon!" the Doctor snapped loudly, glaring at him.

"Well, we've got weapons," Jake cut in. He put up a hand to quiet Rickey before he could argue with the Doctor. "Might not work on those metal things, but they're good enough for men like him.

"Or you," Rose muttered. Her eyes fluttered open and she ignored the Doctor even as he grabbed her face in his hands and pressed his forehead to her own. "Don't threaten him or anyone else in this van, got it?"

"What the hell have I done, anyway?" Pete asked in shock.

"Oh, you know, just laid a trap that's wiped out the government and left Lumic in charge," Jake explained sharply.

"If I was part of all that, do you think I'd leave my wife inside?" Pete asked him, staring at him like he was stupid.

"Maybe your plan went wrong," Rickey suggested. "Still gives us the right to execute you, though."

"Talk about executions, you'll make us your enemy," the Doctor warned loudly. Rose steadied herself by grabbing Pete when the Doctor jerked away suddenly to glare at Mickey's alternate self. "And take some really good advice, you don't want to do that."

"All the same," Rickey muttered, glaring at Pete. "We have evidence that says Pete Tyler's been working for the Lumic since 20.5 Tell them, Mrs. M."

The driver, Mrs. Moore, called back to them as she drove. "We've got a government mole who feeds us information. Lumic's private files, his South American operations, the lot. Secret broadcasts twice a week."

"Broadcasts from Gemini?" Pete asked, horrified.

"And how do you know that?" Rickey glared.

"I'm Gemini!" Pete exclaimed. He shook his head in frustration. "That's me."

"Yeah, well, you would say that."

"Idiot," Rose muttered at Rickey.

"Encrypted wavelength 657, using binary 9," Pete told them firmly. "That's the only reason I was working for Lumic, to get information. I thought I was broadcasting to security services. What do I get? Scooby Doo and his gang. They've even got the van."

"No, no, but the Preachers know what they're doing," Mickey defended. "Rickey said he's London's most wanted."

Rickey looked around shiftily. "Yeah, that's not exactly…"

"Not exactly what?"

"I'm London's most wanted for parking tickets."

Rose could feel the thorough amusement coming from the Doctor and had to clear her throat to keep from laughing herself.

"Great," Pete muttered.

"They were deliberate!" Rickey defended. "I was fighting the system. Park anywhere, that's me."

"Good policy, I do much the same," the Doctor nodded firmly before winking at Rose. "I'm the Doctor, by the way, if anyone's interested. That's Rose and Ross."

"Even better, Rose," Peter complained. "That's the name of my dog."

"I swear to god, Doctor," Rose warned sharply. His lips twitched but he definitely did not laugh. Much.

"Still, at least I've got the catering staff on my side."

"I'm good," Rose told Ross. She pulled herself upright and glanced around once more. That time, she noticed more. There was a long, plastic box that was clearly filled with weapons, likely guns. It was mostly empty, save for the few pieces of clothing scattered around and water bottles on the floor. "We need a plan. Fast. A lot of those people might still be alive, including your wife, Pete."

"That's even worse," he told her, clearly stressed. "Because that's what Lumic does. He takes the living and he turns them into those machines."

"Cybermen," the Doctor supplied darkly. "They're called Cybermen, and I'd take those earpods off, if I were you."

"They're what controls them," Rose agreed, taking them from Pete. She pointed her sonic at them quietly and deactivated them. "If Lumic was spying on us from them before, he isn't now. They're dead."

The Doctor nodded as she put the pods in her pocket. "Lumic's over reached himself. He's still just a businessman. Now he's assassinated the president. All we need to do is get to the city and inform the authorities, because I promise you- this ends tonight."

They stopped the van when, suddenly, everyone in the street froze. Shortly after that, they began walking all in the same direction, which also happened to block off the road. Everyone jumped out cautiously.

"What the hell?" Mrs. Moore asked, walking over to look at the nearest person.

"What's happening?" Mickey questioned.

"It's the earpods," the Doctor told them.

"Lumic's taken control," Rose agreed nervously. When Ross reached for the earpods on someone to pull them out curiously, she smacked his hand away. "Don't."

"It'll cause a brainstorm," the Doctor agreed. "The human race, for such an intelligent lot, you aren't half susceptible. Give anyone a chance to take control and you submit. Sometimes I think you like it, easy life."

"Doctor, you're being rude," Rose sighed.

"It's true!"

"It's still rude."

"Hey, come and see," Jake called. He waved them over and they all followed. When they glanced around the corner, they caught sight of groups of Cybermen marching people out of their houses.

"Where are they going?" Rose asked softly.

"I don't know. Lumic must have a base of operations."

"Battersea," Pete filled in. "That's where he was building his prototypes."

"Why would anyone want to make metal people if you can't have emotions?"

"He's dying. This all started out as a way of prolonging life, keeping the brain alive at any cost."

"Mondas, Telos, now here," Rose muttered. "And I hoped I'd never meet them. I guess that's our luck, right?"

"What's Mondas and Telos?" Mrs. Moore questioned quietly.

"Planets in our universe that have created Cybermen," she explained quietly, giving the Doctor some time to make a plan. "I wasn't there but the Doctor was. It was bad. Somehow, one made its way to Van Stattan's museum in Utah."

"What the hell are you on about?" Pete asked her.

"Nevermind that, we need to get out of the city," Rickey instructed, turning around. "Okay, split up. Mrs. Moore, you look after that lot. Jake, distract them, go right, I'll go left. We'll meet back at Bridge Street. Move."

"I'm going with him," Mickey told Rose. She gave him a firm nod.

"Hurry!"

From there, Mrs. Moore led them away. They sped down the street and turned abruptly when they ran into Cybermen and went down an alley.

Mickey and Rickey slowed down when they got clear of the marching troops.

"Which way?" Mickey questioned. "I don't know where we are."

"Did they see us?" Rickey asked him.

"Do they know where we are?"

"I bet they saw us. I bet they saw us in the dark," he said. And then together, "they know where we are."

"I don't get it, what is it with you?" Rickey asked with venom in his voice. "You are exactly like me."

"I don't know, I reckon you're braver," Mickey disagreed, shaking his head.

"Oh, yeah," Rickey confirmed. "Ten times. Still, your friends aren't bad, I'll give you that. That girl- she's… angelic."

"She's just Rose," Mickey rolled his eyes. "It's the Doctor and Rose. Ross and I, we just tag along behind."

"Well, then you're not that bad."

"Rose told us to hurry," Mickey realized. "Let's go."

The pair split up and ran separate directions. By the time they met back up, Rickey had barely enough time to jump haphazardly over the fence and split into a run once more with Mickey with the Cybermen safely on the other side and blocked away from them. They then ran to meet everyone else and got there just as Jake did.

"You did it," Rose breathed, staring at the two identical men with wide eyes. "You're here."

"I ran past the river, you should have seen it," Jake told them, gasping a bit for breath while Rose hugged Mickey quickly. "The whole city's on march. Hundreds of Cybermen, all down the Thames."

"We should move on," the Doctor told everyone. They all agreed and began making their way toward Battersea. Something was going on there, and they needed to find out what. When they came to stop on a hill overlooking the factory, they all took a minute to look at it.

"London's sealed off," Rose said quietly. "Everyone was taken there."

"To be converted," the Doctor added.

"So we need to get in there," she continued. "The question is how."

"Can't you just do that… thing you do?" Mickey asked her. Ross shook his head, speaking up before she could.

"It's not safe. She's deeply connected with the very basic building blocks of our universe - it's how she does everything she does. Here, it'd be more difficult and dangerous with all of the TARDIS's Arton energy in her."

"So, we're back to how," Mrs. Moore said with a slight frown. "Any of you have a plan?"

"Oh, I'll think of something," the Doctor assured her. Rickey scoffed in disgust.

"You're just making this up as you go along!"

"Yup," the Doctor agreed. "But I do it brilliantly."

"We're not dead yet," Rose added. "That's a plus."

OoOoOoOoOoOo

Mrs. Moore pointed at the picture on the screen while the Doctor placed his jacket on Rose's shoulders. He looked over her head at the screen, thanking the randomness of regeneration for her small height. She was beginning to shiver, and he gave off enough body heat to warm her up easily if they stood close enough. "That's a schematic of the old factory. Look, cooling tunnels underneath the plant big enough to walk through."

"We go under and then up to the control center," he said.

"There's another way in… through the front door," Pete stated. Everyone looked up at him in surprise. "If they've taken Jackie for upgrading, that's how she'll get in."

"We can't just go strolling up," Jake snapped, moving closer.

"Well, we could," Mrs Moore disagreed. She dug through her bag for a moment before pulling something out. She opened her hand to show them. "With these. Fake ear pods… dead, no signal. But put them on, the Cybermen would mistake you for one of the crowd."

"That is assuming they have no way to keep track of that," Ross pointed out. "That they only keep a visual watch on everybody."

"Well this is my job," Pete decided firmly.

"You'll have to show no emotion - none at all," the Doctor warned. "Any sign of emotion would give you away."

"I'll take the other set, then," Rose sighed. She felt the Doctor's alarm through the bond and shot him a look. "Doctor, I can help if things get bad. I'm going with him and that's that."

"No stopping you, is there?"

"Nope."

When he gave a short nod, Ross tossed the ear pod he held over to Rose. She caught it and the Doctor moved on. "Tell you what, we can attack the ear pods at the same time. Give people their minds back so they don't walk into that place like sheep. Rickey-boy!"

The Doctor hurried away to talk to Rickey. With him gone, Rose let out a small sigh and found Ross shifting over next to her. "Sure about this?"

"He goes in there alone, he's dead," she answered quietly. "After… it'll be fine. We've already avoided one unnecessary death." He looked at her, surprised, so she nodded at Rickey. "He got caught by Cybermen with Mickey the first time."

"Mrs Moore!" the Doctor exclaimed as he hurried back over. "Would you care to accompany me into the cooling tunnels?"

"How could I refuse an offer of cooling tunnels?"

OoOoOoOoOoOo

"Just put them on. Don't show any emotion. No signs, nothing, okay?" Pete insisted. Rose took the earpods from him and put them in quickly.

"Hey, look, it'll be okay," she promised. She offered him a slight smile. "I'm used to this sort of thing. I know how to keep my cool."

Pete frowned at her even as he watched the Cybermen marching into the factory. "We could die here; why are you doing this?"

Rose stared at him, feeling the grief build up in her chest once more. The last time he'd asked her that, she'd said it was for her parents. That time, it was just a little different. "For my dad. I lost him… maybe two years ago now. He'd be so pissed at me for doing this, but it's the right thing… are you ready?"

"Are you?" he shot back. "No emotion."

She took a moment to wipe whatever look she had on her face away. Once she felt more confident in her ability to be blank, she nodded at him. When he nodded back, the pair got to their feet and snuck in line.

OoOoOoOoOoOo

The Doctor eyed the sleeping Cybermen warily as they made their way through the tunnel. It was dark, damp, and cold, but it worked. No one had noticed them thus far. "How did you get into this, then? Rattling along with the Preachers?"

"Oh, I used to be ordinary," Mrs Moore sighed. She stood further to the right to avoid even brushing one of the metal men as they walked. "Worked at Cybus Industries, nine to five. Until one day, I find something I'm not supposed to. A file on the mainframe. All I did was read it. But then suddenly, I've got men with guns knocking in the middle of the night. A life on the run… then I found the Preachers. They needed a techie, so I sat down and taught myself everything."

The Doctor felt a pang of sadness for the woman behind him. It made sense, why she was doing what she did. She'd had a normal life that was uprooted completely by accident. It somewhat reminded him of another woman he knew. "What about Mr Moore?"

"Well, he's not called Moore," she admitted. "I got that from a book, Mrs Moore. It's safer not to use real names… but he thinks I'm dead. It was the only way to keep him safe. Him and the kids." There was a beat of silence as that sunk in. "What about you? Family?"

"Rose," he answered easily. "Just Rose now. Before her, no one. Didn't need anyone with the whole world on my shoulders. Go on then, what's your real name?"

"Angela Price. Don't tell a soul."

"Not a word."

They kept walking, now silently. Their conversation left the Doctor a little unsettled. Rose was all he had left. Sure, Ross was alive, but he'd never known the man well, and he hadn't exactly liked him much during the war. He'd lied when he'd said he didn't remember him. In fact, he remembered the day Ross went missing from Gallifrey. It caused an uproar paired with the unauthorized travel onto Gallifrey, and they'd thought he'd been kidnapped by Daleks or their allies. As Ross had plenty of sensitive information, working with Romana, they sent many different groups out looking for him and even started a battle on a planet that had not previously been engaged in the war.

His disappearance had been a big deal, and it had never been solved. Eventually, there were just more important matters to attend to.

So Ross was alive, and he hadn't been taken by Daleks. That was nice, the Doctor supposed, but he still didn't care about the other man. Rose seemed to have taken a liking to him, and Ross certainly liked her well enough.

But Ross would leave, and it would be the Doctor and Rose once more. Mickey would leave as well, and he had a feeling that would be happening soon. When it did, when they were alone again, what would he do? Would he find another companion to put space between them?

The idea made him grimace. He was getting frustrated with himself for the space he'd been so sure they needed. Truthfully, he didn't want that space. More than that, he knew- he felt that Rose didn't want it, either. So what was the problem?

"Doctor, did that one just move?"

Distracted, the Doctor glanced back. "It's just the torchlight. Keep going, come on-," a Cyberman twisted to the side, fully bringing him out of his thoughts. "They're waking up, run!"

They sprinted down the end of the tunnel, and the Doctor practically jumped up the ladder to the top where he worked to sonic it open. Mrs Moore begged him to hurry, and he tried to do so as he crawled through the opening at the top. Finally, he got through, and she followed seconds after. Together, they shoved the metal lid back on, locking the Cybermen in the tunnel for the moment.

"Oh, good team, Mrs Moore!"

OoOoOoOoOoOo

"You will wait."

Rose tensed as the Cyberman lowered its arm and walked away from her. Once it was gone, Pete decided to risk speaking for the first time since they'd entered the factory.

"You okay?"

"Good," she lied.

"Any sign of Jackie?"

Rose didn't answer. She knew that Jackie was gone already, and that was proven by the Cyberman stalking over to them. It stopped right before Rose but looked past her at Pete.

"You are Peter Tyler. Confirm. You are Peter Tyler."

Pete hesitated. "Confirm."

"I recognize you. I went first. My name was Jacqueline Tyler."

"What-,"

"Pete, no!"

"They are unprogrammed, restrain," Jackie The Cyberman said. Quickly, they were grabbed by nearby Cybermen.

"You're lying!" Pete yelled. "You're not her! You're not my Jackie!"

"Pete, stop," Rose snapped.

"No, I am Cyberform. Once, I was Jacqueline Tyler. Her brain is inside this body."

"Jacks, I came to save you!" Pete insisted, struggling against the metal hands restraining him.

"This man worked with Cybus Industries to create our species. He will be rewarded by force. Take them to Cyber Control."

As they were marched away, he began speaking again. "Maybe there's a chance, maybe we can reverse it."

"Pete, we can't," Rose told him sadly. "There's no taking this back. Jackie's gone. I'm sorry."

OoOoOoOoOoOo

"You are not upgraded."

Mrs Moore reached into her pocket. "Yeah, well, upgrade this." She tossed something at the Cyberman and it stiffened, making noises of pain, before it dropped to the ground hard.

The Doctor let out an incredulous laugh. "What the hell was that thing?"

"Electromagnetic bomb," she said proudly. "Takes out computers, I figured it might stop a Cyber suit."

"Well, you figured right," the Doctor said, kneeling down. "Now, let's take a look. Know your enemy… got a logo on the front. Lumic's turned them into a brand." He popped off the cover on the chest and grimaced. "Heart of steel, but look."

Mrs Moore made a face as he lifted something slimy with a finger. "Is that flesh?"

"Central nervous system," he confirmed. "Artificially grown, then threaded through the suit so it responds like a living thing. Well, it is a living thing. Oh, but look… emotional inhibitor. Stops them feeling anything."

Mrs Moore shook her head in confusion. "But… why?"

"It's still got a human brain. Imagine it's reaction if it could see itself. Realize itself inside of this thing. It would go insane."

"So they cut out the one thing that makes them human."

The Doctor nodded. "Because they have to."

"Why… am I… cold?"

Both of them started slightly at the voice of the Cyberman on the ground below them. Mrs Moore's eyes widened in horror. "Oh my god, it's alive. It can feel."

"We broke the inhibitor," the Doctor realized. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."

"Why so cold?"

"Can you remember your name?"

"Sally," it answered. "Sally Phelan."

"You're a woman," Mrs Moore commented.

"Where's Gareth?"

"Who's Gareth?"

"He can't see me," it continued. "It's unlucky… the night before."

"You're getting married," Mrs Moore realized. She looked vaguely sick, but her compassion shined through.

"I'm cold," it repeated. "I'm so cold."

"It's alright," the Doctor assured. He grabbed his sonic and pointed it down into the nervous system. "You sleep now, Sally. Just go to sleep." The light shut down, and the suit turned off. "Sally Phelan didn't die for nothing… cause that's the key. The emotional inhibitor! If we can find the code behind it, the cancellation code, then feed it throughout the system into every Cyberman's head, they'd realize what they are."

"And what happens then?" Mrs Moore asked him. He took in a deep breath.

"I think it would kill them." He frowned, suddenly unsure. "Can we do that?"

"We've got to," Mrs Moore shook her head at him. "Before they kill everyone else. There's no choice, Doctor. It's got to be done."

The Doctor continued to stare at the dead Cyberman while Mrs Moore got to her feet, ready to move on. A hand grabbed her shoulder, however, and sent a fatal amount of electricity through her body, killing her. The Doctor jumped up, furious.

"No! No, you didn't have to kill her!"

"Sensors detect a binary vascular system," the Cyberman stated. "You are an unknown upgrade. You will be taken for analysis."

OoOoOoOoOoOo

"Well, I've been captured, but don't worry, Rose and Pete can still save me," the Doctor said sarcastically as he entered the room. "Oh wait, nevermind… you okay?"

Rose gave a short nod. "They haven't noticed anything… off about me yet. What about you?"

"Analysis, whatever," the Doctor brushed it off. "Must not have scanned you."

"They got Jackie," she told him after a silent moment.

"We were too late," Pete spoke up. "Lumic killed her."

"And where is he?" the Doctor asked loudly. "The famous Mr Lumic? Don't we get the chance to meet our Lord and Master?"

"He has been upgraded," another Cyberman stated.

"So he's just like you?" the Doctor asked, disgusted.

"He is superior," it disagreed. "The Lumic unit has been designated Cyber Controller."

A door to the side opened, and suddenly they were given sight of a large metal chair with another metal man in it. "This is the age of steel and I am its creator."

Screaming could suddenly be heard from around them, the Doctor's eyebrows shot up. "That's my friends at work. Good boys."

"And you said Mickey and Ross were useless," Rose reminded him. "Look what they've done."

"Mister Lumic, I think that's a vote for free will," the Doctor said, smirking at the metal man.

"I have factories waiting on seven continents," Lumic told him. "If ear pods failed, then the Cybermen will take humanity by force. London has fallen. So shall the world."

"London didn't fall," Rose scoffed. "We're a resilient bunch, we'll get off our arses and put it back together. You didn't win."

"I will bring peace to the world," he insisted. "Everlasting peace and unity and uniformity."

"And imagination?" the Doctor shot back. "What about that? The one thing that led you here. Imagination, you're killing it dead!"

"What are your names?"

"I'm the Doctor, this is Rose."

"Doctor," Lumic repeated. "A redundant name. Doctors need not exist. Cybermen never sicken."

"Right, that's why you started all of this," Rose glared. "Because you're afraid of dying. Well, having died more than once, I can say it's a hell of a lot easier and more fun than this."

The Doctor let out a frustrated breath. "Lumic, you're a clever man. I'd call you a genius except we're in the room," he said, winking at Rose. "Everything you invented, you did to fight your sickness. And that's brilliant- that is so human. But Rose is right. Once you get rid of sickness and mortality, what's there to strive for? The Cybermen won't advance. You'll just stop. You'll stay like this forever. A metal earth with metal men and metal thoughts. Lacking the one thing that makes this planet so alive! People! Ordinary, stupid, brilliant people!"

"You are proud of your emotions?"

"Oh, yes."

"Then tell me, Doctor," Lumic requested. "Have you known grief and rage and pain?"

"Yes. Yes, I have."

"And they hurt?"

"Oh, yes."

"I can set you free. Would you not want that? A life without pain?"

"You might as well kill me," the Doctor said plainly.

"Then I take that option."

"It's not yours to take!" he yelled. "You're a Cyber controller! You don't control me or anything with blood in its heart."

"You have no means of stopping me. I have an army. A species of my own."

The Doctor rubbed at his face. "You just don't get it, do you? An army's nothing! Cause those ordinary people, they're the key. The most ordinary person could change the world! Some ordinary man or woman… some idiot. All it takes is for them to, say, find the right numbers. Say, the right code. Say, for example, the code behind the emotional inhibitor. The code right in front of him. Cause even an idiot knows his computers these days. Knows how to get past firewalls and passwords. Knows how to find something encrypted in the Lumic family database under, what was it Pete? Binary what?"

"Binary nine," Pete answered.

"Binary nine! An idiot could find that code, a cancellation code. And he'd keep on typing, keep on fighting, anything to save his friends."

"Your words are irrelevant," Lumic declared. The Doctor let out a short laugh.

"Yeah, talk too much, that's my problem. Lucky I got you that cheap tariff, Rose, for all our long chats on your phone." Rose rolled her eyes at him. Honestly, how was he even getting away with it?

"You will be deleted," Lumic threatened.

"Yes, delete, control, hash, all those lovely buttons. Then of course, my particular favorite… send! And, let's not forget how you seduce all those ordinary people in the first place - by making every bit of technology compatible with everything else."

Rose grabbed her phone and tossed it over to him. He caught it midair and slammed it into a port. Immediately, the Cybermen reacted. They screamed in agony and began grabbing at their heads and falling to the ground.

"What have you done?" Lumic asked furiously.

"I gave them back their souls," the Doctor said simply. He grabbed Rose's phone, tossed it to her, and the three began running from the room. "They can see what you've done and it's killing them!"

"Head for the roof!" Rose called over the explosions. The trio sprinted up the stairs, all three of them just hoping they were going the right way. They miraculously got to the roof, and it wasn't long before they'd all begun climbing the ladder, one that took a moment later to drop down because it took Ross a second to find it.

As Mickey, Rickey, and Jake pulled the balloon back into the sky, they realized they weren't alone. Lumic climbed the ladder after them, grabbing at Pete's ankles. Just as the Doctor managed to cut the rope, Lumic gripped tightly onto Pete and pulled him flying away from the balloon.

Rose let out a scream. "Dad!" Unable to control herself, she lit up and used Bad Wolf to drop Pete directly into the balloon above them. Being at the top of the ladder, the Doctor barely had time to grab her before she passed out completely. With Ross's help, they pulled her into the balloon and continued to fly away from the burning factory.

OoOoOoOoOoOo

Ross threw the door open and the Doctor carried Rose into the TARDIS. Being without rooms, he set her carefully on the grating. When Ross knelt down, he handed over the power cell for the TARDIS. As he walked over to the console to put it in, Pete entered hesitantly.

"So… what happened… to her?" he asked. "What did she do?"

"She saved your life, Pete Tyler," the Doctor answered. He brushed hair out of her face and grabbed her hand within his own. "She wasn't supposed to do anything again until we got back home. It's not safe, you know. I don't know how long she'll be like this. Right now, she's not quite dead, but… close."

"How?"

"Rose is special," Ross answered as the lights came on.

"But who is she, exactly?" he wondered. "Why would she risk her life to save me?"

"Because it's who she is," the Doctor told him seriously. "And because she couldn't save her dad when he died."

"She called me Dad," Pete muttered. The Doctor ignored him. Rose wasn't his daughter, and as much as she did understand that Pete wasn't her father, obviously she saw him as such, even just a little.

"We only have five minutes of power," Ross warned from the console. "We need to go."

"Right," the Doctor said, finally looking up at Pete."Good man, Pete Tyler. Don't waste what she gave you. Get rid of the rest of those factories for us."

Pete gave a firm nod. With one last glance at Rose, he slipped out of the TARDIS, leaving them alone once more to return to their own universe.

OoOoOoOoOoOo

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