The Impossible Planet
Rose switched off the parking break and felt the TARDIS fight even more. Irritated, she turned it back on and raced around the console to force their ship to land. When she did, the TARDIS made sure they all knew she wasn't happy about it. "Someone's cranky today."
"She's just queasy," the Doctor defended, stroking the door as he opened it. "It's not her fault."
"She'd probably be better off if you'd bother to get her the Axcillian regulator I told you she needs," Ross muttered. He stepped out of the TARDIS behind the Doctor, and Rose came out last. When she did, she stopped short at the sight of the cupboard they'd landed in. While she stood there, Ross made his way forward and opened the door.
"Open door fifteen."
"Rose?" the Doctor glanced back, stopping in the door. "Coming?"
"Yeah," she nodded. "Yeah, just- just give me a minute. I left something in the TARDIS."
While he could feel her lying, he didn't press. Instead, he made his way out and Rose stepped back to the ship behind her and pressed her hand to the wood. She took in a few long, deep breaths to prepare herself before she gave the TARDIS a loving, comforting stroke and stepped out of the cupboard. When she did, the Doctor was mid-rambling.
"-thing about kits!" he was saying. "This place was put together like a flat-pack wardrobe, only bigger and easier. "
"Open door seventeen."
"Oh, it's a sanctuary base!" he realized excitedly. Rose closed the door behind them, prompting Ross to glance back at her - he hadn't noticed her behind them. The only reason the Doctor knew she was there was because he could feel her following and listening. "We've gone way out. And listen to that. Underneath, someone's drilling."
"'Welcome to hell,'" Ross read off. Rose let out an indelicate snort as she stared at the writing on the wall.
"Since when do Time Lords have a concept of hell?" the Doctor asked in confusion.
Rose slipped her hand into his and stared at the wall. Last time they'd been there, it hadn't translated for them. This time, she could read it perfectly. "'Abbadon, the great devourer who will lead the world into shadow.'"
"You can- Rose, you can read that?" the Doctor asked in surprise. "I can't read that."
"Arkytior is as old as the universe," Ross commented quietly. Neither of them bothered to acknowledge his words. "Of course she can read it."
"But what does that mean, Abbadon? Because he doesn't exist-," the Doctor paused at the dread that was rapidly filling the woman to his side. "Rose?"
"I didn't think- I mean, I've heard those words before. I didn't think anything of it, mostly because there was so much going on with the bloody Beatles and Gwyneth and all the Weevils… but Ianto said it, he did. Jack yelled at him for the superstition."
"Rose, what are you talking about?"
She forced her gaze away from the wall and shook herself. "Nothing. It's- it's nothing yet."
Hesitantly, the Doctor set her words aside for later and stepped toward the door. "We should find out who's in charge. We've gone beyond the knowledge of the TARDIS, and that's not a good move, even with Arkytior's knowledge."
Rose made a slight face at him, but she said nothing. Since they'd all admitted she was the goddess, he'd done that more than once - called her Arkytior. She didn't assume it was on purpose, but she could tell he was trying to combine what he knew of the goddess with her, and if that helped, then it was fine. Arkytior was her Gallifreyan name anyway, and it would've been even if she wasn't the goddess.
"Open door nineteen."
All three of them let out a shout and jumped back when the door swung open to reveal the Ood.
"Right, hello, sorry!" the Doctor said, pushing away the shock. "I was just saying, nice place!"
"We must feed," they said.
"You gotta what?"
"We must feed," they tried again. As they backed up, the Ood stepped further into the room. "We must feed… we must feed." When the trio turned around to run out the way they came, more Ood had entered through the back. "We must feed, we must feed, we must feed… you, if you are hungry."
"Sorry?" the Doctor asked, lowering the sonic that he'd grabbed as the Ood had cornered them somewhat.
"We apologize," an Ood said. "Electromagnetics have interfered with speech systems. Would you like some refreshment?"
"Open door eighteen."
"What the hell?" a man that Rose recognized as Jefferson asked sharply. He entered the room with two others behind him and stared at them in disbelief. "How did…" He grabbed his comm and raised it as he stared from Ross to the Doctor, and finally at Rose - specifically, her eyes. "Captain, you're not gonna believe this. We've got people. Out of nowhere, I mean real people. I mean three living people, just standing here in front of me."
"Don't be stupid," a voice called through the comm. "That's impossible."
"Sorry, why would that be impossible?" Ross asked, lost.
"I suggest telling them that," Jefferson replied to the captain.
"If this is a sanctuary base, you have to have visitors occasionally," Ross reasoned.
"You're telling me you don't know where you are?" Jefferson asked in disbelief.
The Doctor grinned at him. "No idea! More fun that way."
The PA crackled as a woman spoke over it suddenly. "Stand by, everyone, buckle down. We have incoming, and it's a big one. Quake 0.5 on its way."
Jefferson brushed past the trio and made his way to the doors, where he spun one open. "Through here! Now, quickly, come on!"
They did as he said, with Rose at the front and Ross following up back. They rushed through the room and down the hall, and Rose glanced back to notice the Ood weren't following them. The ground started shaking violently as they walked, making it difficult to stay upright. Lights sparked and went out, and some wires dropped down the walls from where they used to hang on the ceiling. When they entered the room, everyone stopped to stare in shock at them, giving them a moment to get a look at the crew as well.
"Oh my god, you meant it," Zach said, his eyes boring into Rose's.
"People, real people," Scooti exclaimed.
"That's us," the Doctor confirmed. "Hurray."
"I'm Rose Tyler," Rose introduced before pointing at the men with her. "That's Ross, and that's the Doctor."
"Doctor," someone said from behind him. "Why's he not got a real name like you?"
"If it helps, Rose is also called Arkytior," Ross offered.
"Weird," Scooti laughed. "I like it."
"Come on!" Danny got to his feet in disbelief. "Oxygen must be offline. We're hallucinating, they can't be- no, they're real."
Zach sat back down at the desk and looked at what he'd been working on. "Come on, we're in the middle of an alert. Danny, strap up, the quakes coming in. Impact in thirty seconds. Sorry, you three, whoever you are, just hold on tight."
Instead of questioning him, Rose dragged the Doctor and Ross back toward the steps behind them. The three of them positioned themselves carefully and grabbed tightly onto the railing in hopes of steadying themselves.
"Ood, are we fixed?"
"Your kindness in this emergency is much appreciated," one said to them with a slight bow.
The Doctor looked around curiously. "What's this planet called, anyway?"
Ida scoffed. "Don't be stupid, it hasn't got a name. How could it have a name?"
"Well… I mean, you could name it," Ross pointed out. "It's how all planets were named. Someone has to do it."
"You really don't know, do you?" she asked, amazed. Zach tensed at her side.
The entire place shook more aggressively than before, sending them all over the place. The Doctor got to his feet and shrugged. "Oh, well, that wasn't so bad-," he was cut off by another impact, this one sending him back to the stairs. He nearly landed in Ross's lap, and the other Time Lord had to push him away to narrowly avoid it. This time, flames burst near Danny and steam by Scooti. It was clear that whatever had happened, it had damaged a few things by the time it ended once more.
"Okay, that's it," Zach said, straightening in his chair. "Everyone alright?" While Jefferson ran over to Danny with the fire extinguisher, Zach looked around. "Speak to me! Ida?"
The Doctor pulled himself up, rubbing the back of his head. "We're fine, thanks." Rose reached over and touched it lightly for him, using the tiniest of energy to relieve the pain. He took her hand within his own again with only slight disapproval. "Don't worry about us."
"Surface caved in," Zach explained as he examined the screen before him. "I deflected it onto Storage five through eight. We've lost them completely… Toby, go and check the rocket link."
"That's not my department," Toby complained. Rose glanced at him and winced. Seeing him now grated against something deep inside her in a familiar way.
"Just do as I say, yeah?" Zach said, irritated. Toby rolled his eyes and made his way out, nearly plowing Rose down as he did so. Ross pulled her out of the way in time, and she did her best not to shuffle away from her friend.
Things in that department had been… odd. He seemed only slightly frustrated, but he hadn't brought it up again. After letting the TARDIS refuel, he'd stopped avoiding her, and she'd tentatively done the same. Slowly, they'd resumed their friendship and seemed to be acting as if it had never happened. The Doctor still hadn't been informed of what specifically Ross had said, but aware that it had upset Rose, he'd been giving him the cold shoulder for a while.
"That's a hell of a storm," the Doctor commented. "Hurricane?"
"You'd need atmosphere for a hurricane," Scooti disagreed. "There's no air out there, it's a complete vacuum."
"So what's shaking this place?"
Ida stared at them. "You're not joking. You really don't know." At his shrug, she took in a breath. "Well, introductions. FYI as they said in the olden days. I'm Ida Scott, science officer. Zachary Cross Flane, acting captain, sir. You've met Mr Jefferson, he's head of security. Danny Bartock, ethics committee."
"Not as boring as it sounds," Danny said with a wink to Rose. The Doctor looked between them for a second before his grip on her hand tightened slightly.
"And that man who just left, that was Toby Zed, archaeology. And this…" she walked back over to the young woman and put her hands on her shoulders. "Is Scooti Manista, trainee maintenance." Finally, she walked across the room to a switch, which she pulled down as she spoke. "And this… this is home."
"Brace yourselves," Zach suggested. "The sight of it sends some people mad."
They stared up as the ceiling moved back and showed them the black hole they were in orbit of. They got to their feet, and the Doctor dropped Rose's hand as he stared up at it in shock.
"That is a black hole," Ross said shortly.
"But that's impossible," the Doctor whispered. Rose just stared at it silently, letting dread continue to fill her. She remembered very clearly how it felt waking up on that ship, having no way home to the Doctor. How it felt being stuck there with Toby, with Satan as he tried to escape. The entire thing made her sick and desperate to change it all. Despite that, she didn't think she could.
"I did warn you," Zach reminded him.
"We're standing under a black hole."
"Surely there's some explanation for this," Ross reasoned. "How is this possible? What happened to this black hole to… allow this?"
"As far as we know? Nothing," Danny answered. "We're in orbit of it."
"But we can't be," the Doctor argued. He felt a similar feeling of dread to Rose, though for the simple fact that something completely, unexplainably impossible was going on there.
"But you can see for yourself, we're in orbit," Ida said firmly.
"But we can't be!"
Ida bristled. "This lump of rock is suspended in perpetual astrostationary orbit around that black hole without falling in. Discuss."
"Doctor," Rose said softly. "It's as impossible as everything else in our lives. We'll figure it out."
"Whatever is keeping us from falling in," Ross said thoughtfully. "It must be old and powerful, supported by the language the TARDIS couldn't translate but that the goddess could. Perhaps Arkytior will be able to-,"
"Arkytior," Danny said. "What's that? Something translated those words? Because we've been trying and we can't."
"But a black hole is a dead star! It collapses in on itself, in and in and in, until the matter's so dense and tight, it starts pulling everything else in, too. Nothing in the universe can escape it. Light, gravity… time, everything just gets pulled in and crushed."
"Perhaps not everything," Ross disagreed. "Perhaps not Arkytior."
"Ross, leave it," Rose shot him a dark look, but the Doctor considered his words.
"She is not invincible. She has to have a limit."
"Her limit is how much she can handle," Ross agreed. "But if she had a hand in creating the universe, then she had a hand in making black holes. Potentially, she could get rid of it before it ever had a chance to hurt us."
"The amount of… of energy that would take- Rose, you can't," the Doctor stared at her hard. Rose threw up her hands.
"It's you idiots discussing this, I'm not doing anything! Stop talking about it and move on. Something tells me we've got a lot to do here."
"I'm lost," Ida admitted.
"Me too," Scooti agreed. "What goddess? What are you talking about?"
"It doesn't matter," Rose said with a smile. "The Doctor's point was, we can't be in orbit. We should be pulled in, and we should be dead."
"And yet," Ida raised an eyebrow. "Here we are, beyond the laws of physics. Welcome on board."
"So there's no atmosphere up there," Ross said slowly. "The storm, that's everything breaking apart?"
Ida nodded shortly. "Stars breaking up, gas clouds. We have whole solar systems being ripped apart above our heads before falling into that thing."
"Just a bit worse than a storm," Rose sighed.
"Just a bit."
Zach moved around and pulled up a hologram of the back hole in question, and the trio and Ida moved closer to talk while everyone else went back to work. Toby had returned, and with nothing else to do, he joined them. "That's the black hole, officially designated K37 Gem 5."
"In the scriptures of the Veltino, this planet is called Krop Tor," Ida continued. "The bitter pill. And the black hole is supposed to be a mighty demon who was tricked into devouring the planet, only to spit it out because it was poison."
"The bitter pill," Ross repeated. "Certainly sounds… foreboding."
"We are so far out… lost in the drifts of the universe. How did you even get here?" the Doctor asked them.
Zach changed the image to one of a tunnel toward the planet. "We flew in. You see, this planet's generating a gravity field. We don't know how, we've no idea, but it's kept in constant balance against the black hole. The field," he pointed to the tunnel. "Extends out there as a funnel, a distinct gravity funnel reaching out into clear space. That was our way in."
"Hell of a way in," Rose sighed.
"By rights, the ship should've been torn apart," Zach agreed. "We lost the captain, which is what put me in charge."
"You're doing a good job," Ida assured him firmly.
"Yeah, well, needs must," he brushed off the compliment.
From across the room, struggling with a pile of blueprints, Danny pointed at the hologram. "But if that gravity funnel closes, we've no way out."
Scooti rolled her eyes at him. "We've loads of fun speculating that."
"Oh yeah," Danny replied, getting to his feet. "That's the word - fun."
The Doctor squinted at nothing as he thought. "But that field would take phenomenal amounts of power, I mean… not just big but off the scale!"
Ross frowned at the Doctor. "We've got to consider something as old as Arkytior. Powerful and old. Perhaps this story of demons is true."
"Getting superstitious on us, Ross?" the Doctor scoffed. He glanced at the device in front of Ida. "Can I…?"
"Sure, help yourself."
While he did that, Rose wandered away and as expected, Ross followed her. "You should really drop it."
Ross took her arm and looked at her seriously. "Rose, what is this? You're worried, anyone can tell. What are we about to meet?"
She sighed and crossed her arms over her chest. "You remember when Owen turned on the rift machine?"
"Clearly. I regenerated."
"Well, the thing that came through it and killed Jack, killed a lot of people, it's here," she explained. "It really is called Abbadon, or it will be. It's extremely powerful, Ross, it's so dangerous. I don't know what's going to happen this time, but I have to assume it's… different."
"Well, what happened last time?" he wondered. Rose shook her head quietly.
"A lot. The TARDIS is unreachable right now, so anything I do with Bad Wolf, it'll be dangerous. If I had the TARDIS with me, I could do basically anything. Getting rid of the black hole, moving us somewhere safe, possibly even permanently binding Abbadon would be simple. Any of that could kill me without her, though."
Ross nodded his understanding. "So what do you think is going to happen?"
She opened her mouth and closed it again. She did have an idea. She was pretty sure that, whatever happened that day, they weren't going to win. It was entirely possible that Abbadon would escape no matter what. The question, she supposed, was why? Because she could probably play along, keep them doing the same as the first time… but at the same time, could she? Could she leave the Doctor in danger?
"Rose," Ross began, but he was cut off by an Ood that walked up to them and offered her a drink. She took it with a smile.
"Thank you," she smiled kindly. As it walked away, she stepped over to Danny and Scooti. "What are they called?"
Danny looked at it and back at her. "Oh, come on. Where have you been living? Everyone's got one."
Rose gave him a stiff smile. "Well, not me, and not Ross. We're not from around here. About as far away as you can imagine, actually."
"They're the Ood," Danny told her finally. Ross let out a startled laugh.
"The Ood," he confirmed. "They work the mineshaft, all the drilling and stuff. Supervision and maintenance. They're born for it - basic slave race."
Rose's lips thinned. "Slaves?"
"Don't start," Scooti rolled her eyes at her. "She's like one of that lot, friends of the Ood."
"I am, yeah," Rose said sharply. "Humans don't need slaves, you just need to learn human decency!"
"But the Ood offer themselves," Danny defended while the Doctor looked over, startled. "If you don't give orders, they just pine and die."
"You can't like being ordered around," Rose told an Ood that walked up to them.
"It is all we crave."
"Why is that?" she wondered.
"We have nothing else in life."
She crossed her arms over her chest in frustration. "Yeah, well, I used to think like that. Thing is… there's always something better than being a slave. I didn't see it for a good while, but I did eventually, and you can, too."
A hand slipped into hers, and she glanced at the Doctor as he pulled her back over to the table they'd stood at before. "There we go, d'you see? To generate that gravity field and the funnel, you'd need a power source with an inverted self-extrapolating reflex of six to the power of six every six seconds."
Rose scoffed. "Not very creative, 666."
"And it's impossible," the Doctor added. He stroked the back of her hand with his thumb and she let him comfort her. He'd been listening to her conversation while he'd worked, and had hurried to finish just so she could get out of it.
"It took us two years to work that out," Zach said, alarmed. The Doctor sniffed slightly.
"I'm very good."
"But," Ida let out a small, frustrated breath. "That's why we're here. This power source is ten miles below through solid rock. Point zero. We're drilling down to try and find it."
"It's giving off readings of over 90 Statts on the Blazen Scale," Zach agreed. Ida nodded along, excited.
"It could revolutionize modern science!"
"We could use it to fuel the empire," Jefferson said.
"Or start a war," the Doctor took off his glasses and glanced at Rose. She frowned at Toby while he spoke, already displeased.
"It's buried beneath us in the darkness, waiting."
"Not sure that's useful, being dramatic," Rose stated dryly. "Giving off a sense of foreboding while actively drilling down… not a great idea, I think."
"Well, whatever it is down there, it's not a natural phenomenon," Toby insisted. "This planet once supported life, eons ago, before the human race had even learned to walk."
"Yeah, we saw that on your wall," the Doctor frowned at him. "Did you do it?"
Toby nodded. "I copied it from fragments we found unearthed by the drilling, but I can't translate it."
"Rose can," the Doctor said before she could stop him. Her breath caught in her throat when his eyes locked on hers. He took a few steps closer until he nearly invaded her personal space and the Doctor pulled her back slightly and into his side, where he wrapped an arm around her shoulders.
"You read it?" Toby asked. His voice was low, and he stared at her intensely. Rose grit her teeth.
"How could I read it? If you can't, how the hell could I?"
"Well, I don't know," he raised an eyebrow. "Maybe it's got something to do with your eyes."
"They did say something about a goddess earlier," Scooti said lazily. With a laugh, she added, "Maybe it's her."
"If you can read it," he said, glowering at her. "You should really tell us."
"Yeah?" Rose stared at him. "Is that a threat?"
"If you don't-,"
"I'd be careful, threatening Rose," Ross interrupted. "Any of us would gladly show you why that's a bad idea, but the Doctor has the shortest temper of all of us."
Toby turned to look at the Doctor, who was glaring down at him angrily. Clearing his throat awkwardly, Zach caught their attention. "You'll have to excuse him. He's spent a long time working on those words, and he's gotten nowhere. But can you really read it?"
Rose sighed. "Bring me more of it. Maybe I can, maybe I can't."
While Toby hurried out of the room to do so, Danny picked up where he'd left off. "There was some form of civilisation, we think. They buried something. Now it's reaching out, calling us in, as Toby would say."
"And you came," the Doctor shook his head at them.
"How could we not?" Ida wondered. Rose stared at them.
"Did it occur to you that this could be dangerous?"
"Of course it did," Zach said sharply. "We lost our captain for it, but it's more than us."
The Doctor looked at them fondly. "So, when it comes right down to it, why did you come here? Why did you do that? Why? I'll tell you why. Because it was there!" he exclaimed. "Brilliant! Excuse me, Zach, wasn't it?"
"That's me," their captain said. The Doctor let go of Rose and stepped over to him.
"Just stand there, 'cause I'm gonna hug you, is that all right?"
Zach hesitated slightly. "'Suppose so."
The Doctor grinned and stepped over. "Here we are, coming in," he said. He wrapped his arms around the man and felt such a deep pride for humanity in that moment that it vibrated throughout the room. "Human beings! You are amazing! Thank you."
As the Doctor moved back to Rose's side, Zach straightened his jacket. "Not at all."
"Amazing, sure," Rose agreed. "Sometimes, like now. But you're also absolutely insane. I mean, what's here is- it's dangerous, can't you feel it? The warnings? The writing, the people that died out, the way we're very precariously sat just in front of a black hole- any one of those things is enough to send people running, but you…"
"Rose is right," the Doctor agreed. "You should pack your bags, get back in that ship, and run for your lives."
"You should talk," Ida scoffed, offended. "And how the hell did you get here?"
"Oh, we've got this- this ship," he tilted his head. "It's hard to explain, it sort of appears."
Rose's face fell. "Captain, where did- you said you lost some areas, what were they?"
"Storage five through eight," he supplied.
"But we- we landed in a bit of a cupboard," the Doctor realized slowly. Abruptly, he turned on his heel and, gripping Rose's hand in his, pulled her with him out of the room and toward where they'd left the TARDIS.
"Doctor it's not worth it!" she tried. "She's not- she's far away, I can't feel-,"
He stopped abruptly after running through three doors in front of the last one. He was looking through the small window in the door and his shoulders fell in understanding. "The TARDIS is gone."
Rose sat with Ross, Danny, and Scooti while the Doctor approached Zach. He was agitated, understandably, but he also seemed ready to take it out on the team working there.
"The ground gave way. My TARDIS must've fallen down into the heart of the planet, but you've got robot drills heading the same way."
Zach glanced at him. "We can't divert the drilling."
"But I need my ship!" he argued. "It's the only way to keep Rose safe!"
Ida scoffed. "She's perfectly safe with us, Doctor."
"You don't understand-,"
"Doctor," Rose sighed. "It's fine. Worst comes to worst…"
He made a face that suggested he'd sucked on a lemon. "Rose-,"
"We've only got the resources to dig one central shaft down to the power source and that's it," Zach interrupted. "No diversions, no distractions, no exceptions. Your machine is lost. All I can do is offer you a lift if we ever get to leave this place, and that is the end of it."
"I'll, um… put you on the duty roster," Ida said nervously. "We need someone on the laundry."
They both walked away, leaving the Doctor feeling like part of his world had fallen to pieces. Rose got up and walked over and grabbed him in a tight hug. "We'll be okay, Doctor."
"We'd be better with the TARDIS," he disagreed. "We're stuck here, Rose."
"Not necessarily. I can-,"
"Not without the TARDIS," he disagreed firmly. "It's too dangerous. Promise me, Rose."
With a sigh, she dropped her head against his chest. "I promise."
The room was a mess. There were papers littered all over the desk, chair, bed, and floor, and Rose watched as Toby hurried to pick them up. He shoved a pile at her and stared expectantly. "Well?"
Rose sighed and glanced down. She could see the words rearranging and definitely understood them. "Some of this is just general… you know, 'I am Satan, fear me' sort of things."
"And the rest?"
She set down all but a few papers when she saw a pattern. She read through it slowly and shifted uncomfortably. "I hate prophecies."
"A prophecy," Toby breathed. He stepped closer. "Read it to me."
She knew she couldn't do that. Despite that, her eyes scanned the words for the third time and tried to pretend she didn't understand for no one's sake but her own.
A betrayal looms
Far beyond the forgotten returning
When the dust settles
The false god and his goddess will be broken apart by an old friend
And they will see that they are at fault for the past and future's curse
"Tell me what it says," he demanded. He took another step toward her and reached out to grab her wrist. His grip was tight and she tried to tear it away.
"Toby," she said, her voice low. "Let go of me or I'll scream."
He looked like he wasn't going to, but finally, he did. She took a step back to walk out of the room, but he stopped her. "I've spent two years working on that. I deserve to know what it says."
Rose didn't bother replying. She slipped out of the room and closed the door with a sigh of relief. Last time, she'd assumed Toby was a relatively normal man before being possessed by Abbadon. Now, though, she thought that maybe the reason Abbadon had picked him was because he was just like that on his own. It left her having difficulties feeling bad for what was going to happen.
Toby would die. If things went the same as last time, she'd send him flying into the back hole. He would die. When she remembered that Scooti would die, too, she wondered if Toby had had anything to do with that. In fact, could she stop it? She couldn't tell without the TARDIS available. She couldn't reach the ship. She was on her own.
Straightening, Rose made her way through the halls. She'd left the Doctor and Ross to watch the scarlet system fall into the black hole, so she knew where they probably were. Just as she moved to step forward, her phone rang.
"Oh no," she whispered as she grabbed for it. Hesitantly, she answered the phone.
"He is awake."
Her first reaction was to tell the voice to go to hell, but seeing as they were basically already there, she just hung up and put the phone away instead. Unnerved, she started moving again to find the Doctor and Ross.
Talking to Danny turned out to be just as helpful as before, this time with a slightly snarky Time Lord along, too. "Look, if there were something wrong, it would show. We monitor their telepathic field. It's the only way to look after them - they're so stupid, they don't even tell us when they're sick."
"Monitor the field, that's this thing," the Doctor glanced at the computer station. Danny nodded.
"Yeah. But like I said, it's low-level telepathy. They only register Basic 5."
"Ah," Rose hissed, blinking rapidly as the number on the screen began rising quickly. Before they knew it, it was all the way at 30. "Doctor, it's-,"
The Doctor quickly touched his hands to her temples and let out a groan as he tried to drown out the screaming. While doing that, he repeated what he heard. "He is awake and you will worship him… but who- ah, hold still Rose, careful, it's-,"
Rose closed her eyes tightly. "I'm okay, Doctor, it's just- it's just like a headache. Nowhere near as bad as Gallifrey."
Danny looked between them with a frown, distracted from the Ood, which had spoken with the Doctor. "You're not telling me she's a telepath."
"No, we're telling you we all are," Ross said. He was looking at Rose in concern. "But she's sensitive. Is there anything you can do to quiet the Ood?"
"I can try putting them to sleep," Danny said, moving over to the computer. He typed for a minute before the Ood started to relax. Despite that, the number didn't lower. "It's not helping."
"I'm fine," Rose assured them as she gently removed the Doctor's hands from her head. "It's fine."
"Get some water," the Doctor suggested. "Come find us in a few minutes."
Rose wanted to argue, but she also knew something was going to happen soon, and she needed to get to a private place. With that in mind, she slipped away and walked around until she found a sufficiently empty room.
It was difficult to pull on Bad Wolf without the TARDIS, and certainly more dangerous. Despite that, she tugged on the timelines and watched, waiting for the right moment. Finally, she lit up brightly and grabbed Scooti from the hall just as the glass broke.
"Open door forty!" Scooti yelled as she landed. Rose grabbed her arms.
"Scooti, Scooti!" she said, "Scooti, it's okay. You're okay."
"What- how-," the woman stopped to take in some deep breaths. She blinked, looking at Rose. "You're… glowing."
"I know," Rose said calmly. "It's okay."
"But… Toby! He was- but it wasn't," Scooti shook her head, clearly frustrated. "It wasn't Toby, was it?"
"What makes you say that?" Rose wondered. They never really knew what Scooti had seen before she'd died, just that the woman had been pulled outside.
Scooti shifted and began to pace in frustration. "I looked at him and he was… covered in his writing. His eyes were wrong, and it was like I was- I was hypnotized. Like I was fine with going outside for a second. It was like… the devil."
"Not more superstition," the Doctor complained as he walked in. He was staring at Rose in disapproval, and he grabbed her face as he reached her. "You're going to hurt yourself."
Ignoring the Doctor and Ross, who had following in behind the Doctor, Rose spoke to Scooti despite the Doctor still holding her face gently. "Scooti, did you hear anything? I got a weird call and the Ood were-,"
"Yeah," Scooti interrupted in a breath. "Yeah, the computer, it wasn't working. My comm wasn't working, and the computer was being… it said 'he is awake. He bathes in the black sun.' What does it mean?"
The Doctor looked at the woman with a frown. "Nothing good."
"Evacuate 11 to 13, we've got a breach," Zach called over the comms. "The base is open. Repeat, the base is open."
No one waited. They took off sprinting through the base, opening and closing the heavy doors as they went. Zach said something vaguely worrying about not being able to maintain an oxygen field, and that had them speeding up quickly.
Just as they were nearing the final door, an Ood grabbed Scooti and pulled her back. Rose let out a scream and ran to grab her, but Ross grabbed her wrist and pulled her along until they'd gotten in the room and Mr. Jefferson had slammed the door behind them. Rose turned and hit Ross's chest hard.
"What the hell?" she yelled at him furiously. "Do you know what I did to save her?"
"She was supposed to live!" she snapped. "I have no access to the TARDIS and I saved her and now I'm in danger and you let her die anyway!"
"Rose," the Doctor said, grabbing her arm. He looked down at her in concern and noted that she'd never really stopped glowing completely. "Rose, it isn't his fault. You wouldn't be here, either."
"Except I would, because I could've sent us here!" she argued. "Doctor, she wasn't supposed to die."
"No one is," he told her gently. "No one ever is, but they do. It's not your fault and it isn't Ross's, either."
"What the hell's she glowing for?" Danny asked loudly. "She's lit up like a Christmas tree!"
"Better question, what the hell happened?" Ida asked. "We need to get Scooti back!"
"We can't," Mr Jefferson said, standing in front of the door. "Hull breach. We were open to the elements. Another couple minutes and we'd be inspecting the black hole at close quarters, you know that."
"That wasn't a quake, what caused it?" the Doctor asked. Rose glanced at Toby and resisted the urge to yell at him. She found it quite difficult.
"Scooti said something tried to get her outside," Rose said. "Broke the glass. I had to… I tried."
"We've lost sections 11 to 13. Everyone alright?" Zach asked. No one replied to him for a minute. "Hello?"
"Captain," Mr Jefferson said finally, his voice quiet. "Report Officer Scootori Manista, PKD, deceased. 43K 2.1."
"She was twenty," Ida muttered, staring at the door. "Twenty years old…"
"'For how should man die better than facing fearful odds for the ashes of his father… and the temples of his gods?'" Mr. Jefferson quoted. Just as he finished, the rumbling underneath them ended, prompting them all to stare at the floor in wonder.
"It's stopped. We've stopped drilling. We've made it… Point zero."
The Doctor walked through the busy platform and came to stand confidently in front of Zach. "Reporting as a volunteer for the expeditionary force."
Zach look at him, irritated. "Doctor, this is breaking every single protocol. We don't even know who you are. You people glow."
"Nah, that's just Rose," he waved off. "You trust me, don't you? And you can't let Ida go down there on her own. Go on… look me in the eye. Yes, you do. I can see it - trust."
Zach looked guilty. "I should be going down."
"The captain doesn't lead the mission. He stays here, in charge."
"Yeah? What about your people?" he shot back.
The Doctor glanced over at Rose and felt the first waver of uncertainty. Could he really go down there, completely unsure of what they'd find? Could he leave her up there, risking something happening to her? He was about to change his mind when she looked up and met his eyes. They stared at one another for a moment before he took in a breath and nodded. "I'm not their Captain, I'm their friend. Rose has it handled."
Zach let out a sigh and turned around. "Positions! We're going down in two! Everyone, positions! Mr Jefferson, I want maximum systems…"
Rose took his place as he walked away, coming to stand in front of the Doctor as he fiddled with his suit. "Ross is helping Danny with the Ood. I offered, but-,"
"Should keep you away from them, yeah," the Doctor agreed. His eyes scanned her in concern and noted how tense she was. "Still loud in there?"
"Could always be worse," she shrugged. "At least I'm not glowing anymore."
"As much," the Doctor corrected, looking pointedly at her eyes. They'd never calmed, but he figured it was a good sign that she hadn't gone Bad Wolf on them - or rather, turned into Arkytior.
Rose shifted and adjusted his suit for him, zipping it up more. "I want that suit back in one piece, got it? That means you, too."
"Yes, sir," he said, winking. She let out a sigh, so he grabbed her hand in his. "I'll see you later, Rose."
She forced a smile. "Not if I see you first, Doctor." And then, as she'd done before, she grabbed his helmet and kissed what would be his forehead. Both of them wished the helmet wasn't there, but neither cared to voice that opinion.
As the Doctor was riding down to the pit, Ross came to stand by her side. She was visibly worried and tapping her foot, so he took her hand in his. Rose nearly ripped it away, but she forced herself to relax - Ross was comforting her. He was their friend. He'd made a mistake before, but they were fine now.
At least, it seemed like it.
"Doctor, try engaging your respiratory bypass now and hold it as long as possible," Rose suggested over the comms nervously. "Should save oxygen in case one of you needs it."
"Rose, stay off the comms," Zach said. She shot a dirty look at him.
When the elevator hit the bottom, the entire base shook. Ross nearly fell over, forcing Rose to grab him and keep him up as she pressed on the comms. "Doctor? What happened?"
"Ida," Zach said. "Report to me. Doctor?"
There was a slight pause. "It's alright, we've made it. Heading out of the capsule now."
Rose nodded in relief. "What's down there?"
"It's hard to tell," he answered her slowly. "Some sort of cave… cavern. It's massive."
"Well, this should help," Ida spoke up. "Gravity globe." She grunted as she tossed it into the air and it got stuck there. It lit up the space, giving them a good sight of what was down there. "That's… that's… oh my god, that's beautiful."
"Maybe not god," Rose thought so loudly that the Doctor caught it. He didn't reply, but her words stuck in her mind as something more than paranoia or superstition - which, really, weren't they the same thing?
"Rose…" the Doctor said, looking around. "You can tell Toby, we've found his civilization."
Rose didn't say anything, but Zach did. "Concentrate now, people. Keep on the mission. Ida, what about the power source?"
Ida clicked her comm as she walked with the Doctor. "We're close. Energy signature indicates north-northwest. Are you getting pictures up there?"
Zach hummed. "There's too much interference. We're in your hands."
"Well, we've come this far. There's no turning back," Ida stated calmly. The Doctor groaned loudly.
"Oh, did you have to? 'No turning back' that's almost as bad as 'nothing can possibly go wrong' or 'this is gonna be the best Christmas Walford's ever had,'" the Doctor complained.
"Have you finished?" Ida asked him. The Doctor paused, thinking.
Up top, Rose was leaning over the railing and holding her head. Ross had his hand on her back, and she was breathing in and out slowly. "They're so loud, I can't hear the Doctor anymore. It hurts."
"Captain, sir, there's something happening with the Ood," Danny said over comms.
"What're they doing?" Zach asked, sounding clearly stressed.
Danny hesitated. "They're staring at me. I've told them to stop, but they won't."
Zach scoffed. "Danny, you're a big boy. I think you can take being stared at."
Ross grabbed the comm from Rose's hand. "Not when they're so loud that Rose can't stand straight. They must be doing something - even I can hear them now."
"But the telepathic field, sir," Danny said. "It's at Basic 100. I've checked - there isn't any fault. It's definitely 100."
"But that's impossible!" their captain argued.
"They should be dead," Danny continued. Mr Jefferson nodded along.
"Basic 100 is brain death," he looked over at Rose. "So why isn't she dead if she can hear it, too?"
"Harder to kill us," Rose managed. "But they're definitely trying pretty damn hard."
"But they're safe, they're not actually moving?" Zach pressed.
"Keep watching them. And you, Jefferson, keep a guard on the Ood. Someone watch Rose, too. Make sure she doesn't pass out."
"I've got her," Ross said when one of the other guards started to walk over. "Why don't you worry about fixing the Ood instead of her?"
"Is everything alright up there?" the Doctor called. There was a hesitation before Ross answered.
Rose tried to shoot him a dirty look, but she winced when she moved. "Now. Now it's worse than Gallifrey."
"We've found something," the Doctor called. "It looks like metal, like some sort of seal… I've got a nasty feeling the word might be 'trapdoor.' Not a good word, trapdoor. Never met a trapdoor I liked."
"The edge is covered with those symbols," Ida interrupted him.
"D'you think it opens?" Zach asked them.
The Doctor raised his eyebrows. "That's what trapdoors tend to do."
"Trapdoor doesn't do it justice," Ida disagreed. "It's massive, Zach. About… thirty feet in diameter."
"Any way of opening it?"
"Don't know. I can't see any sort of mechanism."
The Doctor stepped down from the edge. "I suppose that's the writing. It would tell us what to do. The letters that, for the most part, defy translation. If only they could get images, Rose could translate."
"She's sort of out of service as is," Zach commented.
"What?" the Doctor glanced up at the ceiling. "What do you mean, out of service?"
"Toby, did you get anywhere with decoding it?" Zach asked, ignoring the Doctor.
"Toby, you're the only chance at this, mate," Danny said. "Does it make sense?"
"I know what it says," Toby said. Rose raised her head to look at him groaning as she did so.
"When did you work that out?" Mr Jefferson asked him. Toby leaned forward in his seat and slowly got to his feet. When he turned, they saw the lettering all over his face.
"These are the words of the beast," Toby said. His voice was distorted, like there was something wrong with him. "And he has woken. He is the heart that beats in the darkness. He is the blood that will never cease. And now, he will rise."
Mr Jefferson rose his gun and pointed it at Toby while he removed the safety. "Officer, you stand down. Stand down!"
"What is it?" the Doctor asked, alarmed. "What's he done? What's happening? Rose, what's going on?" But the comms weren't working. All he could hear from up top was sharp static, like something was interfering with them.
"Mr Jefferson, tell me, sir… did your wife ever forgive you?" Toby asked. Jefferson seemed to shift a little in discomfort.
"I don't know what you mean."
Toby stepped forward, which was a rather bold move for a man with a gun pointed at him. "Let me tell you a secret. She never did."
Jefferson attempted to gather himself. "Officer, you will stand down and be confined."
"Or under the strictures of Condition Red, I am authorised to shoot you," Jefferson answered firmly.
Toby didn't budge. "But how many can you kill?" He asked. They didn't keep arguing. Toby opened his mouth wider, and the black writing on his skin began to sink away from him, returning him to normal as it instead infected the Ood. Toby fell to the ground, and the Ood looked at them.
"We are the legion of the Beast."
"We need to get back," Rose told them, slowly pushing Jefferson back. Ross was still holding her arm nervously, and he helped shove Danny back, too.
"The legion shall be many, and the legion shall be few-,"
Rose grabbed the comm from Ross and tried it again. "They're possessed, Doctor, the Ood, and it's- it's loud. There's something wrong, be careful."
"-call him Abbadon. Some may call him Krop Tor. Some may call him Satan or Lucifer. The King of Despair. The Deathless Prince. The Bringer of Night. And these are the words that shall set him free."
"To the door!" Jefferson yelled as he pushed his way in front of the Time Lords. "Move quickly!"
"I am become manifest," the Ood continued as they backed the group down the hall. "I shall walk in the light, and my legions will swarm across worlds."
At those words, the base began to shake again. It was aggressive, like something big was moving, and it was. Down below, the trapdoor was opening itself, showing them a big, black pit. Aside from that, the planet had begun moving out of orbit threateningly.
"I am the sin and the temptation and the desire. I am the pain and the loss and the death of hope. I have been imprisoned for eternity. But no more. The Pit is open and I am free!"