Amy’s aunt dies in front of her, screaming as the sphere things burn her to a crisp. Amy wants to sob, wants to get down on her knees and yell and beg for them to bring her back, but she doesn’t. Instead she turns and runs, as fast as she can, until she’s far enough away that she can’t hear the screams. She keeps thinking that the Doctor will save her, he will, her raggedy Doctor, but he doesn’t. It’s just Amy and the cold sky, all alone as the human race suffers in the distance.
There were some days when Amy woke up with half-remembered fear pounding through her veins. There’d be a strange echo in her ears, like a scream that didn’t quite register. A horrible sense of hopelessness and dread that weighed down her limbs. Then she’d blink and the feeling would be gone, so far gone that by the time she rose and put her feet on the floor, she couldn’t even remember the sensation of fear at all.
She goes back for Rory. Mels is gone, he tells her as she leads him out. The machines tried to grab her but she escaped and then disappeared. There’s no sign of her. Amy shudders to think of what might be happening to her best friend, who never knows when to shut up and quit pushing, but she can’t focus on that now. She has to keep moving.
Rory follows her like he can’t do anything else. He is her shadow. Together they creep across the country, down until they get to edges. There are shipyards being erected all along the coast, huge gleaming towers. They’re completely cut off, so they can only guess what’s going on, but none of it is good.
Along the way, they meet survivors, people fleeing just like them. They tell tales of horror and destruction -- the burning of a day care center, the sacking of a school, the fall of an old people’s home. The enslavement of this town and that town. The Master is behind it all, directing the Toclafane in everything. It was supposed to be humanity’s finest hour, their introduction to the intergalactic stage, but instead it was only death. The Great Decimation, they call it.
Amy’s reflexes improved overnight. She went from being clumsy and hesitant to being almost graceful. Powerful.
Once, she and Rory went into town and got into a bar fight. Amy knocked some guy out before she even realized what she was doing. Rory dragged them out, swearing and laughing at how ridiculous their lives were.
Amy stared at her hands like they belonged to someone else.
Amy and Rory travel with a group of people across the English Channel. They go in the dead of night, hidden underneath tarps as the old couple who owns the boat steers them through the darkness. Rory’s hand grips hers as they hear the buzz of the Toclafane approaching.
“Identify yourselves,” the things order. Amy huddles closer to Rory and prays that none of the children will choose this moment to start crying.
The old man says something. He was a doctor, apparently, before the world screamed to an end. Sometime during the weeks they were on the run, the Master had enacted some kind of system to control the population. Medical staff could travel freely in order to help people. The Master need bodies, after all. He needed slaves to build his machines, to go to war for him.
The Toclafane let them pass, but not before killing the man’s husband. Doctors may be free to travel, but doctors’ spouses are just as restricted as everyone else.
Amy passed a woman on the street once, when she and Rory had driven down to London for the day. She looked familiar, although Amy couldn’t place why. The woman spotted Amy staring at her and stared back. There was recognition there, and sadness and hope and a vague sense of longing. She looked at Amy like she knew something, but by the time Amy blinked and stepped forward, the woman was turning away.
“Which way do we go?” Rory asks once they are standing on what used to be French soil. “Where do we go?”
Amy looks at the sky and thinks about what her raggedy Doctor would do if he were here. They can’t stay here; they’re too exposed. They have to move. They have to keep moving. She examines their surroundings and picks a direction at random.
“That way,” she says, catching the attention of all of those who came with them, “we’ll go that way.” And just like that, she suddenly has people to look after. She grabs Rory’s hand, and together they lead their ragtag bunch off of the beach.
Her life seemed strange for a week or two. Well, stranger than usual. Amy was used to walking through her life like it belonged to someone else.
After two days stumbling about the continent and feeling unbearably hungry, they’re rescued by a group of French outlaws. They live on the edges, staying in caves. They don’t exactly welcome the British stragglers, but they don’t turn them away either. Amy doesn’t speak French, and neither does Rory, but some of the French speak English, so they work it out.
It’s the children who meld the two bands together. Amy had read that children cross communication barriers easier than adults, but she had never really thought about it until she sees a French child and a British child sitting side by side in the dirt, piecing together a language all their own. Within days, it’s spread to the other children, and before long Amy finds herself talking to a French man in that same mixed-up language that shouldn’t work but does.
The Franglais, as Rory calls it, sounds strange, like the nonsense children’s tongue it is. Amy likes it, although she’s not sure she’s comfortable with it. It’s a strange line to draw, considering that her favorite memory is of a man in a magic blue box.
Amy found herself muttering in French as she took out the rubbish. She hadn’t even consciously realized that she was doing it. She didn’t noticed until Mrs. Hubbard from down the street commented about how good her accent was and had she been taking classes?
Amy cuts her hair off. She loves her hair; it’s always been one of her favorite things about herself, but it’s impractical to have while leading a life on the run. It’s too recognizable, too distinct. Rory does it because she asks him to. She pretends not to see when he keeps a lock of it for himself. There’s a lot of things she pretends these days; their games have gone far past playing Raggedy Doctor with her best friends.
Amy holds the people together as best she can. She has found herself in a leadership position she never asked for, one that she doesn’t even know how to manage. She draws on her reading about the Romans and sets up a perimeter and a patrol. She arms those who draw sentry duty with what weapons they can find, not that it’ll do anything against the Toclafane.
They call her General Pond, first as a joke. But as time passes and she manages to keep most of them alive while adding survivors here and there, the nickname drops the faintly mocking edge and becomes a sign of respect. Her quick mind has saved them a number of times, mostly from the Toclafane. Sometimes from wandering bands of humans who want to take what they have and kill them for the pleasure. She has her people build defenses, improve camouflage, the works.
General Pond. The girl who survived. A heroine, rather than someone who waited to be saved.
Sometimes Amy looked in the mirror and expected to see something else.
There are whispers across the continent, across the whole world. Martha Jones, the people whisper, Martha Jones will save us all. Martha Jones. Martha Jones. Martha Jones.
Amy listens around the fireside, eating her share of the rations. She listens as those fleeing across Europe talk about this Martha Jones. They say she’s the only one who escaped the Battle of Atlanta alive. They say she’s the only one who can kill the Master.
Amy has only ever had faith in one person -- the Doctor. She’s not sure if anyone else could ever do what he does. She can’t bring herself to hope.
Rory wants to believe. He tells her so, as everyone gathers around the fires to sleep.
“But she’s not the Doctor,” Amy says.
“The Doctor’s bloody nobody!” Rory shouts. “He’s not even fucking real! We don’t have time for make believe.”
Amy doesn’t talk to him for days, not until the supply run he volunteers for limps back, bloody and two men short. She doesn’t say anything, and neither does he. She patches him up with her own hands, and while it’s not as good as the old doctor could do, Rory doesn’t complain.
“General,” he says in thanks, and then it’s like nothing happened.
It took months for her appetite to return to normal.
After the Untied States president had been murdered before a shocked and appalled world, she had been absolutely ravenous. One minute she was just as shocked and appalled as everyone else, the next -- she felt like she was starving. She’d eaten breakfast that morning, but it felt like ages ago.
From that moment on, time between meals seemed to stretch into eternities, until her body adjusted itself once again.
Martha Jones comes to their little camp. She’s unaccompanied; she just has a coat and a backpack. Amy wonders how she’s managed to get so far on her own; it’s supposed to be impossible to get from town to town, much less across the world.
“They say you’re the General,” Martha Jones says.
Once, Amy would have stuttered and shrugged off the responsibility and all that that required. She would have looked down and muttered that she wasn’t really a general.
Now, she meets Martha Jones’s eyes and says, “Yeah, that’s me. I’ve heard a lot about you as well.”
Another time Amy and Rory had gone down to London, there was a man in the same shop as them, a soldier by the haircut. He looked bored holding his girlfriend’s shopping bags. He caught a look at Amy and halfway raised his hand in a salute before realizing that she was a civilian. That she was nobody. He looked puzzled, like he wasn’t sure why he had done that.
Amy grabbed Rory and steered them out of the shop as soon as she could. There was a chill down her spine, and she didn’t know why.
Martha Jones tells them stories. Not stories about herself, although she’s in them, but stories about the Doctor. Amy gasps when Martha Jones says his name reverently, like he’s a god, and the woman meets Amy’s eyes across the campfire. They can see each other clearly in that one moment -- the raw joy and fear and ruthless wonder that comes with knowing the Doctor.
If he told Martha Jones that he was going to save Earth, he would. Amy believes this, right down to her bones. He may not have come back for her, but he’ll come back for the world.
Her belief in the Doctor never lessened over the years, never wavered, never disappeared. Instead, it grew stronger. He was almost a god in her eyes, even though everyone else insisted that he was just a left over figment of her childhood imagination.
He was her Doctor, and he could do anything.
She takes Martha Jones aside.
“When I was a little girl,” she says, “there was a crack in my wall. It whispered in the night, terrible things. Then one day a man in a blue box dropped into my backyard.” Martha smiles, the expression small and brittle. She looks tired. Exhausted. She’s been around the world and back, and she has more on her shoulders than Amy can imagine, even with the weight of her own people pressing on her.
“And he was impossible?” Martha Jones asks.
“The most!” Amy giggles. “His clothes were torn up and he was so scattered. I made him fishsticks and custard. He held my hand while he fixed the crack. A tear in the universe, he called it. And then he left. He said he’d be back, that he’d take me with him, but he didn’t. He never came.”
“I’m sorry,” Martha says, wrapping her arms around Amy like they're old friends. “I’m so sorry.”
“And the worst part is, I’m still waiting,” Amy half sobs, allowing herself to cry for the first time since she saw her aunt die in front of her. “And I hate myself for that.”
“You mustn’t,” Martha tells her, pulling away. “You’re amazing, Amy Pond. Just look at what you’ve done.” She waves her hand at all the people gathered behind them. “Look at who you’ve saved. You’re magnificent.”
“So are you,” Amy says, wiping her tears, “Martha Jones.”
The two women share a mutual watery smile -- the smile of two people who have met a man who’s done impossible things, the smile of people who still have hope in desperately dark times.
The Doctor had had companions before. Amy knew that; it was a logical assumption. As much as she would sometimes like to be the one and only, she knew that the Doctor was a lonely little boy scampering about the wide emptiness of space. He needed people.
Sometimes, it was like he wasn’t even seeing her when he looked at her. Amy was just the embodiment of all of his other companions, an echo of all of his other humans.
Amy wanted to travel with him forever, to make sure that that lonely little boy always had a friend beside him.
Martha leaves, having accomplished her goal. She’s going to tell everyone, she had explained to Amy. She’s going to tell the whole world about the Doctor, so that when the time comes, he can do what must be done. Amy almost offers to go with her, but she holds her tongue. Her place is here, with these people who call her the General and who depend on her to help them. Her place is here, with Rory, protecting the children and making sure that they all have enough food to get by. As much as she would love to help spread the word about the Doctor, she can’t.
Japan burns. Everyone dies, except Martha Jones. Amy is fiercely glad that she survives. The message must be spread.
When the eve of the Master’s promised war comes, Amy gathers everyone together. The children sit next to each other, huddled in. Amy speaks their Franglais language naturally; she even thinks in it now. She tells them all about her encounter with the Doctor when she was a little girl, scared of the crack in her wall. They listen closely, grasping at the hope she offers them. It’s been months since Martha Jones came among them, and even though they all want to believe that she is right, that they will be saved, it’s hard to have faith when you’re dirty and tired and hungry.
It’s the eve. It’s the day before the Master’s war against the universe. Rory is at her side, holding onto her hand for dear life. The Doctor will save them. The Doctor will save them. The Doctor will save them.
“The Doctor will save us!” she shouts to the sky. “The Doctor will save us! Doctor! Doctor!” She yells it, she screams it, and the rest of them join in. They’re all calling out, trying to change the world.
“The Doctor will save us!”
And he did.
Amy sometimes dreamed of a year that never happened. She always woke up afraid, but Rory was there, and the Doctor was just a shout away, and she knew that it was just a dream.