Then and Now, part 2
by Jay McIntyre
12 February, 1993
The TARDIS materialized in a dirty alley. A bitter wind was blowing, and snow was coming down fairly heavily.
There was a pause, then the door opened. The Doctor, Amy and Rory stepped out, all dressed for the winter weather.
The Doctor looked up, expression unreadable. “A cold winter's night in London....”
“So?” Rory asked.
“It reminds me of something.”
“You've been everywhere,” Amy pointed out. “Everywhere reminds you of something.”
“Something specific,” the Doctor said. “Something from long ago.”
“How long ago?” Rory asked. “From before the.....the....”
“Before the Time War,” the Doctor agreed. “Yes.” He drew a deep breath. “Come along, Mr. and Mrs. Pond!”
Amy chuckled, and Rory sighed. They followed him.
The snow was heavy; Amy hoped they wouldn’t be out in it for long. Rory just hoped they were here for a purpose.
The Doctor’s face was thoughtful. He led them to a wide avenue, and was considering a narrower street.
“What are you looking for?” Rory asked after a few minutes of the chilly snow coming down upon them.
“For someone I met long ago....and for those that hunt him.” He took out his sonic screwdriver and activated it, twirling it around in the snowy darkness. It’s green light spun around as he turned, irritating Rory and Amy as it flashed in their eyes. “I’ve been waiting for this day....well, much longer than you’ve been alive.”
He said it in an easy, jocular tone. But as Amy’s vision cleared, she saw ancient depths in his eyes. Every so often she saw the Time Lord he really was; the ancient Gallifreyan who had lived so long, beyond the death of the rest of his people that should never have happened.
There was no arrogance in the Doctor’s voice. On the surface there was humor, but beneath....Amy could tell there was weariness.
Rory, for his part, was equal parts annoyed and impressed. “What, did someone leave you a message in the past, like River?”
“Not in that sense, no. But like River, I met this person out of order. What I know for sure is that we’ll rescue him from some sort of threat. What exactly, I don’t know, except that it’s my usual forte.”
“Your usual forte?” Rory echoed.
“Monsters,” the Doctor said, simply. He raised his sonic screwdriver again and turned away.
Amy and Rory looked at each other.
“He’s in that sort of mood, is he?” Rory muttered.
“Just roll with it, you goof,” she answered, grinning. But she knew what he meant.
“I can hear you, you know,” the Doctor’s voice called back.
The Doctor led them down a side street. “Sonic screwdriver’s picking up all kinds of alien activity. That’s the problem with Earth; too inviting. Not just for every would be conqueror or infiltrator; but also plenty of exiles and fugitivies, too. I was even exiled here for a while. Long time ago. Point is, there’s plenty of aliens to go around. Trouble is, finding the right one.”
“So how do you know you’re close?” Rory asked.
The Doctor flashed a smile. “Because when I met this fellow in the future, he told me generally where.”
“Hang on, the future?” Rory stopped.
“The future, my past. Time travel, you know.”
“Oh, the wibbly wobbly.”
“There you go,” Amy said, nudging him.
“Yes,” the Doctor agreed. “Anyway, there are six different alien sources in the general vicinity. Question is, which is the right one? Or rather, the wrong one. The threat.”
Before Rory or Amy could answer, there was a scream.
The boy came running out of an alleyway. His heavy jacket was torn open, the hood fallen back as he ran in terror. His face was pale, eyes wide and staring.
The Doctor stepped into his path and grabbed him by the shoulders. “Easy there, Gregory. What are you running from?”
The boy snapped out of his mindless terror, staring at the Doctor. He did not yet have the greying hair of his older self, nor the cynical veneer. He was terrified. “H-how do you know my name?”
“I’ll explain later. What I know now, is that you’re running from something horrible. But not what.”
“My friends....they...they were taken by these....giant green.....things!”
The Doctor’s mouth formed a thin line. “Show me.”
Young Gregory led them to a dirty alleyway. He was clearly trembling at every step, and did not want to come back here. Twice, he asked the Doctor if he was sure he wanted to do this. He was obviously terrified.
“Um, Doctor.” Amy tugged on his sleeve. “Are you sure it’s a good idea to be taking him back here?”
The Doctor looked at Gregory. “She makes a good point. Do you want to stay up here?”
Gregory’s pale face looked back at them, considering. Then he said, “No, they’re my friends. I shouldn’t have left them. Besides, what are you going to do down there, anyway?”
The Doctor did not smile. “Deal with the problem.”
Gregory and his two friends had been tearing around the streets. They weren’t thugs--Gregory was adamant--but they were bored, with nothing to do.
Then they had found...something in the alleyway. Two large green creatures had taken his friends down below; they were huge, lumbering beings. They had been strapped into not-quite-upright contraptions. Gregory was meant for the same fate, but the second lumbering giant had only a loose grip on his wrist, mostly occupied with one of his friends. They were ferociously strong, but not very agile. He had torn away and fled, sobbing in fear.
Now, the Doctor took the lead. At the end of the alleyway, there was a hole in the dirty ground. Below, after the smallest of gaps, was a bulging metal surface with an open hatch.
“I wonder how long it’s been here,” the Doctor said. “They can’t have built London over it without anyone noticing. And there is no evidence of Stealth technology. So they must have landed here at some point in the past, and gone dormant. Before the city was built. Some ancient time, as you reckon it....and the people of that time prodded at the mystery and, unable to affect it, eventually ignored it. Then their heirs built over it.”
“How could they be alive after all this time?” Rory asked.
“And who are they?” Amy put in.
“Hibernation could last any amount of time, with the appropriate technology. As for whom....I’m not sure yet, but I have some very nasty suspicions.”
“I hope they haven’t killed my friends yet.” Gregory said, a nervous twang in his voice.
What are their names?” the Doctor asked the young man as they slowly desecended.
“Mark and Nick,” Gregory said.
They reached bottom. There was a small antechamber. The walls were cold metal, but dripping condensation.
“Yuck!” Amy made a face.
“Indeed,” the Doctor frowned.
They would have asked Gregory which way to go, but there was only one way; through the antechamber, into a long corridor.
The corridor led to another, roughly oval-shaped chamber. Mark and Nick were there, trembling and shivering in the contraptions, eyes closed. There were four other such contraptions. Two were occupied, two were empty.
A slim green form came from behind the abductees.
“Ice Warriors,” the Doctor said, voice grim and unsurprised. “I thought so.”
“You know us, human?” the creature rumbled.
“It talks!” Gregory interjected.
“Of course it talks,” Amy said.
“No, but English!”
“We hear English. The Doctor’s...craft....translates.”
Gregory wanted to ask more questions, but the Doctor cut him off. “I know your people,” the Time Lord said to the Martian, “Yes. I’ve met them before. I know that you are an Ice Lord, a commander of this expedition, whatever form it takes. And I am no human.”
“Delusional,” the Ice Lord said. “You will join the other experimentees...”
“Or we will die,” the Doctor said. “Yes, I’ve heard it all before. By all means, threaten us. Blah blah blah, you will conquer the Earth, unlimited rice pudding, et cetera.”
“This is no threat,” the Ice Lord lifted his claw, which glowed softly with it’s inbuilt weapon. “This is death.”
The Doctor sighed. “I know.” He raised his sonic screwdriver.
The Ice Lord fired.....but his weapon exploded. He screamed, stumbling backwards. The Doctor darted forward and gently tapped the creature on it’s helmet, and it slumped into unconsciousness.
Rory and Amy were shocked; even Gregory seemed less than happy.
“Doesn’t seem your usual style,” Rory finally said.
The Doctor shook his head. “He meant to fire his weapon. It’s sonic-based, like the screwdriver. I caused it to backfire. He’ll survive. But if the Martians won’t listen....” His eyes were bleak.
“Martian?” Gregory exclaimed.
“You called them Ice Warriors,” Amy put in.
The Doctor nodded. “That’s what they call themselves.”
Gregory raced over to his friends, frantically tugging at their restraints. But even as he did, his eyes were sparking. “I thought space exploration had proven that--”
The Doctor cut him off. “Take a look around.”
Gregory shook his head. “Yes, of course. It’s just....so....”
The Doctor smiled without humor. “Even the Martian invasion of 1996, referred to by some as ‘The Dying Days’, will be refuted as a Hoax even after it happens. It won’t be until the next century until aliens are accepted as real by the general public.”
Gregory stared. “What?”
Amy smiled and nudged him. “You get used to it. Come on, let’s get your friends out of these things.”
“An excellent suggestion,” the Doctor agreed. He freed Mark, while Gregory, Amy and Rory worked on Nick’s bonds. “Amy, get Gregory and his friends out of here. Rory, with me.”
“I’m not leaving you!” Amy protested.
“Then come back once they’re safe.”
Gregory had an objection of his own. “But I so want to study this technology!”
The Doctor turned to him. “Gregory, listen to me. We’ll meet again, when you’re older. I’ll be younger, though I’ll have a middle aged face and a gaudy coat, and look nothing like I do now. You’ll have spent all the intervening years studying things like this. Because now you know about it....you’ll never forget.”
Gregory stared at him for maybe twenty long seconds, before Amy yanked at his shoulder, almost angrily. “Come on!” The young man blinked, opened his mouth, then shut it again and followed her as she chivvied his two half-dazed friends along.
Rory looked at the Doctor. “Uh....”
“Gregory described two giant creatures. The Ice Lord--a commanding officer, if you will--doesn’t fit that description by any means. Which means there are at least two Ice Warriors wandering the base.”
“Unless they’re still on the surface!” Rory protested
The Doctor nodded. “If so, Amy and the boys will have the good sense to run. But I rather think they’re still down here. In fact, we’re lucky they didn’t come when we rescued Gregory’s friends, or when I stunned the Ice Lord.”.
They moved on, into the bowels of the ship. Down a long corridor. There were deep rumbling voices to the left.
“Do we need more subjects?,” one of them asked.
“We have not been commanded to find more yet,” a second voice answered. “Lord Xazerr probably is satisfied with the two we have, at least for now.”
“Tissue samples,” the first voice grunted. “What’s the point?”
“The point,” the second voice said with some real anger, “Is that we do not question orders!” there was a pause, then the voice went on in a more reasonable tone. “The Lords always study the enemy.”
“These aren’t enemies,” the first voice went on, subdued and suitably chastened. “They are easily conquerable.”
“Worker younglings,” the second voice corrected. “But useful for studying their biology.”
“I have spoken dishonorably,” the first voice said. “It was probably the long sleep.”
The second voice gurgled Martian laughter. “No, you were always sour tempered, even in the old days of home! But it is no matter. Enjoy the respite while it lasts. You know we’ll be sent out again soon enough.”
The first voice didn’t laugh, but there was humor in it’s tone now. “You are right. Take rest when it comes, and where we can find it.”
The Doctor exchanged a look with Rory, who spoke in a low voice. “What if Gregory’s friends are....I dunno, indoctrinated or something?”
“Doesn’t sound like it,” the Doctor whispered back. “But I’ll check on them after this is over.”
“If we get out of here,” Rory muttered.
“Have faith Rory,” the Doctor chided him. “Despair is not cool.”
Rory snorted. “So how do we take them out before they hear us?”
“I’m tempted to use the sonic screwdriver again but....they’re likely to adapt.”
“Even though we’ve got the drop on them?”
“Even then. Their technology is sonic-based also, and as such is very responsive to such intrusions.”
“So,” the Doctor grinned, “We do it the old fashioned way. Help me with this panel.”
Carefully and quietly they began to remove a wall panel. In the adjacent chamber, the Ice Warriors were still muttering to themselves about waking up more of their kind from stasis. Apparently no more of their kind had been ‘thawed’ yet; small blessings.
Rory watched the Doctor study the messy collection of wires and thick green connection boxes that glowed with green traceries of light in the opened panel; it looked like somebody had taken 80s tech and turned it surreal.
“Let’s see...ahh yes.” The Doctor fished in his pockets and brought out two pairs of thin leather gloves. “Put these on. When I tell you, pull at the wires leading into the bottom left box.” The Doctor put his own gloved hands on wires leading to the centremost box. “And....now.”
They yanked the wires free, the gloves protecting them from the bright green sparks that resulted. Power went out in the room and corridor both. Then there was the hissing of venting gas. The Ice Warriors shouted in alarm, then started coughing.
One of them stumbled out into the hallway, hard to see in the darkness. But Rory knew the Doctor could see better than any ordinary human. He just crouched down.
The gas had billowed out of hte room after the Ice Warrior, who was clearly still affected by it. He gurgled something and raised a claw, but his movementes were feeble, uncoordinated. His shot went wide and he collapsed.
The Doctor clamped a hand on Rory’s arm and pulled him back. “Don’t breathe the gas in--for Martians it’s simple knockout gas. For you.....well, let’s just say Amy would never forgive me.”
Rory got the general idea; his imagination conjured up all kinds of horrors. “What now?”
“All the Martians are down for the count. And I think I have a way of handling this without killing them. But not here. Let’s go find Amy and the others.”
They found Amy, Gregory and his friends two blocks away, huddling beneath a storefront awning against the blustery snowfall.
Amy hugged Rory, then turned to the Doctor. “Have you stopped them?”
“At this point, all I’ve done is bought us time. But now the way is clear to me for a real solution.”
“You hope,” Rory said.
“I hope,” the Doctor agreed, “And hope is cool. One more detail first, as you pointed out, Rory.” He took out his sonic screwderiver and scanned Gregory and his friends. “Tissue and blood sampling, but no indoctrination. Get someplace safe. I expect to be taking care of the Martian ship shortly, but don’t go near it all the same. But you, Gregory; remember what I said. Study up on these things, mysterious, alien and outre; and we will meet again.”
Gregory stared at him for a long moment, then nodded. “Come on guys,” he said to his friends. “Let’s get out of here.” Dazedly, his two friends nodded, and the three of them vanished into the swirling snow.
“Let me see if I’ve got this right,” Rory said slowly. “You met him in your past as a time traveller?”
The Doctor nodded. “A long time ago.”
“And that’s what the snowstorm reminded you of when we landed here,” Amy reasoned.
“Exactly. But enough nostalgia. I said I see the way to deal with the Martians. Though it will be difficult.”
“And if it doesn’t work?” Rory asked.
The Doctor sighed. “Then I’ll have to kill them.”
They both stared at him for a long moment. the snow still swirling down.
Finally, Amy spoke. “So what do we do, then?”
“We go back to the TARDIS, and hope the old girl’s up to what I have in mind.”
The TARDIS doors opened inward, and Amy and Rory came in, the Doctor just behind them. “I could just launch the Ice Warrior vessel into space, but that would cause damage to London; I could simply reactivate their hibernation protocols, but that wouldn’t solve the problem. I’d just have to deal with them again in a few hundred years, or let humanity do so in a more bloody manner at that time.”
“I take it there’s a third option,” Amy said.
The Doctor nodded. “I’m going to try something I haven’t tried for a long time; I’m going to wrap the TARDIS around the Martian ship and try to take it elsewhere. Far, far away.”
“Will it work?” Amy asked.
The Doctor blew out a sigh and ran a hand through his hair. “I hope so.”
“So what do we do?” Rory chimed in.
“Wish me luck. That’s about all you can do. No offense.” He leapt up to the console. “Here we go.” His eyes focused on the rotor. “I know you can hear me, old girl; the business with House and the pocket universe showed me that.”
The lights of the console brightened briefly in response.
“So you know what I’m going to try. I know it’ll be rough on you. But when has doing the right thing ever been easy?”
This time there was no reply; but Amy and Rory felt a sense of hope that did not entirely come from within themelves.
“Right!” The Doctor danced around the console, hitting buttons and throwing switches that Rory could’ve sworn hadn’t been there before. Finally, the Doctor stabbed a dark purple button.
The lights of the console room dimmed, and the grinding of the TARDIS engines could be heard, deeper and more labored than usual. The room shook; Amy and Rory to clung to each other.
The hole in the alleyway leading to the Martian ship grew darker still.....then cleared. Had anyone been looking, they would’ve seen only an empty space, carved out in the rock and stone.
The trumpeting roar of the TARDIS grew louder.
The Doctor continued to dance around the console. “We’ve got the Martian ship, now to take it someplace safe.” He went through the usual dematerialization protocols, though this time with a much longer set of coordinates. “I know it’s a long trip my dear old thing, but you know why....It’s not as bad as towing the Earth, after all.”
The Martian ship ground into reality on a hillside, and a few moments later the TARDIS rematerialized beside it.
It was a strange world; instead of grass, the hill was covered with something like moss, which was alternatively colored blue and black in strange patterns. The sky was a golden yellowish color, and there were no clouds to be seen.
Within the TARDIS, the lights had returned to normal. The Doctor had turned on the viewscreen, so Amy and Rory could see out.
“Surreal,” Amy said. “Can we go outside?”
“With breathing masks, yes. But I’d advise against it. The Martians will revive before too long, and I don’t think you two want to be out there when that happens.”
“So why don’t we leave, then?” Rory asked.
“Because this was a long trip for the TARDIS, even without the extra burden of the Ice Warrior spacecraft. She needs to rest at least a little while. And if the Martians do revive while we’re still here, they won’t be able to get in.”
“Where are we?” Amy wondered.
“On a habitable planet with no native sentient life. Your people have no name for it, not even a catalogue number. It’s in the Lesser Magellanic Cloud.”
“Have you ever been out here before?” Rory asked.
“Further, easily. But not while carrying extra weight. That was the problem.”
“Not that I’m exactly sympathetic to the Ice Warriors,” Amy said, “But was it really a kindness to strand them here, so far from home?”
“They’ve got plently of crew still in hibernation, including a few females. They’ve got enough technology in the ship to start up a basic colony. They’ll survive. They won’t be entirely happy, but they’ll survive.” The Doctor turned to his companions and smiled. “That was their mission, you know. To colonize a new world. Now they’ll be able to do it, without threatening your people. The farthest flung Martian colony.....ever!”
“And that,” Rory said, “Is cool.”
“Don’t steal my material,” the Doctor said, but he smiled as he said it.
It was some little while before the TARDIS left that place, but not long after it faded away, the Ice Lord stumbled from the ship, still shaking his head, and stared around in wonder.