The sound of the TARDIS falls on deaf ears as it breaks through time and space to land in what appears to be a meadow and silence settles in around it soon after the time machine finished materializing in. The door bursts open and Amy Pond bounds into the rather peaceful place. She is quickly followed by Rory Williams, always one step behind her.
The Doctor doesn’t move from the console, however, still concentrated on trying to figure out where they exactly are. The TARDIS is not registering anything except signs of life other than them and that they are on a rather large planet.
Amy pops her head back inside the TARDIS when he doesn’t immediately follow them. “Doctor! C’mon, where are we? It’s really beautiful.”
“I’m not sure.”
There’s a silence between them before Rory pops his head in beside Amy and raises an eyebrow.
“You see, the TARDIS isn’t registering anything! It’s like she doesn’t know where we are,” he pats the console as if to reassure it before turning to look at his companions. “That’s alright, isn’t it? We can just…” he wiggles his hands around in front of his face, “find out where we are on our own.”
“Brilliant idea,” Amy declares and turns back around to step out from the TARDIS. Rory leans back and waits as the Doctor shuts the door and locks it. As he is slipping the key into his pocket, Amy makes a disgruntled noise.
“Amy, what is it?”
“Are you sure there are people here? It seems so… dead,” she has unhappy look on her face as she continues to walk forward and inspect the meadow. Far on the horizon, the sun is starting to fall beneath the ground. It is ten times bigger than Earth’s sun and much brighter. Farther up in the sky, she spots what looks like two moons, though both are strange colors of pink and green. “Doctor?”
The Doctor is staring ahead of Amy, a frown working its way onto his lips. “No, there are people here. If you want to call them people. Aliens, whichever term you want to use, Ponds.”
Rory catches up with Amy but turns to look at the Doctor. “Is there something you aren’t telling us?”
“No, now why would you think that, Rory?” He turns in a complete circle and then rubs his hands in front of his face. “Perhaps the people here are nocturnal. Sleep during the day, live their lives at night! Their sun is rather bright.”
“Sooo, should we be looking for this people once the sun sets?” Amy kicks at the ground and stares at a forest that is coming into view as they travel farther.
“No, no. We shouldn’t just barge into their cities or whatever civilization without knowing what lives here. Let’s find something!”
The Doctor is off, jumping and practically running all the while inspecting plants and the like on his way. Amy gives Rory a look that has become rather common between them and the two follow the other as fast as they can imagine
“.. and though I can’t be sure about the true inhabitants, almost all the vegetation appears to be untouched, maybe they’re pure carnivores. Oh, but that would be a nasty thing to run into, us made of meat and all that-”
“Doctor!” Amy interrupts yet another of his rants to frown at him before lifting up what looks like a screen that she found a couple of words earlier.
“What’s that?” He shuffles over to her and snatches if from her, propping it on a wall to scan it. As the sonic screwdiver does this, the screen hums to live and begins flickering between fuzziness and voices. He turns up the setting and points at it again until it straightens into what appears to be a video.
“Ponds! Come look at this,” he waves them over all the while focused on the screen. “A message coming to us… but from when, exactly?” He crouches down and sets it on a rock, hearing Amy lean over his shoulder while Rory stands and peers over the both of them.
“A message? What for… and how could they know that anyone would find it?” But the Doctor shushes her and directs their attention back to the screen.
On it, the place it is being taken in comes to light and something moves around the screen until there is a boy sitting in front of it. His skin is grey and from his dark hair sprouts two sets of horns. Pair of glasses sits on his face, one lens red and the other blue. What appear to be fangs curve out from his lips, though it doesn’t appear to cause him any discomfort. In the background, there is another boy, though his horns are only one pair and not as sharp as the other boy’s. He starts to talk, a worried look on his face.
“Doctor? Are you there?” There’s a pause as Amy and Rory look at him, but the Doctor is more concentrated on the boy. “aa thaid that you would thee thith, so I gueth I have to believe her. The’th uthually right about thith thtuff. Maid of Time, and all that. I’m not thure what the thought the wath telling me to do, but whatever,” he pauses and leans his head back. There’s a sigh from him and then the other boy gets up in the camera.
“What this mentally challenged grub is trying to say is that we’re fucked. And I mean really fucked. I’m not even sure what we got ourselves into but we sure as hell need a fucking god or some shit to come down from motherfucking heaven to help us,” he sounds much too angry and the whole time his face has been in a scowl. “We’re in danger of losing half our team because half the assholes keep wandering off by themselves!” Behind him the first boy tries to interrupt but her snaps back at him. “Shut the fuck up, Sollux. I am trying to bring light to the situation that we all might fucking die of because no one can understand you!”
Sollux pushes the other boy away and focuses the screen on himself. “Ignoring kk, we need help. That’th what thith tranthmitthon ith about. aa told me that the Doctor was our latht hope now. Find uth, Doctor. Pleathe.”
The rest begins to turn into static, no more words uttered by the two boys. But before it buzzes out, a girl appears behind them, or well, a robot is more like it. Then it stops completely and the Doctor lets the screen fall against the rock.
“We should find them,” Amy starts and Rory nods along with her. “Doctor!” He turns her head to look at her. “Those looked like they were just kids! Who knows what happened to them….” When he doesn’t respond again, she frowns. “Doctor, when was that transmitted?”
“Months ago. By now, if there were in trouble, whatever it was has gotten to them. There isn’t anything we can do for them. If I was meant to help them, I would’ve got this in time to find them,” he looks at her and shakes his head in a sad way. “It’s like a fixed point, Amy. Something I’m not meant to touch or change.”
“We should leave. It doesn’t look like there was any reason to come here in the first place. Just the TARDIS being a little wonky. I’ll fix her up,” he stands up and walks back toward the police box. Amy jumps up and runs after him.
“What were they? Those kids. They weren’t human. Do you know what they are?”
“The Alternian Troll. Quite a wonderful race, up there amongst the humans. Most of their species lives amongst the stars, but the children inhabit Alternia. They are rather aggressive, but when the human race finds them, they begin to calm down. So this is Alternia, as I could have guessed. I was sidetracked, however.”
He doesn’t say much else after that, as they are all back in the TARDIS and he’s already moving along the console to vworp them to their next location. The silence on board the ship is not comfortable and Amy keeps looking at Rory with her pleading face, as if to get him to talk the Doctor into going back. But neither of them move and before they know it, the Doctor is smiling and bounding toward the door.
“Well, come on then, Ponds! Let’s see what awaits us… oh dear,” he’s just flung open the door and there’s a girl floating just outside of it. Her skin is just as gray as the boys’ in the video and her horns curl like a rams. Bright yellow eyes smile back at him and lips tainted red break into a grin.
“Doctor!” Her wings flutter as she propels backward and behind her a boy floats, similarly looking like Sollux but with black and white eyes. And sort of… half alive. “You finally came! You told me you would, but I didn’t know exactly when. Sollux here doubted me, but I just had this feeling. Timetraveling can be tricky business.”
And then she stops, inspects him like she’s looking for something and then shrugs as she comes to stand on the ground.
She is much shorter than the Doctor, and suddenly her youth shows. She can only be around fourteen, so young and vibrant.
“Sorry, and I do mean that, but who are you?”
“Oh, that’s right! You said you don’t travel in a linear line sometimes. I’m Aradia Megido. Sollux calls me aa if that helps any,” at the second mention of his name, the boy turns his head to stare at the four. “Don’t worry! They finally came, Sollux,” she gets a sudden look in her eyes. “Even if we couldn’t save everyone else.”
Amy frowns. “What are we supposed to be doing here? Do you kids need help or something?”
“If we needed help, we would have asked,” Sollux floats to them and then drops to stand next to Aradia. “AA, what’s this whole business about anyway?” His voice is shifting between an eerie echo and a normal voice.
“The Doctor can’t interfere with this. It’s a fixed point,” she smiles at him before wrapping an arm around Sollux. “By which I mean, Doctor, you really cannot interfere with this. He is coming and perhaps… he has been here all along. But you have to leave before he arrives.”
“Who? Who is coming here?”
“Lord English. I assume you know him. He’s ripped enough holes through time, space, and paradoxes looking for us… and our human friends,” she gestures to herself and Sollux. “As much as we could use your help, you told me yourself. You aren’t to be a part of this. And as a fellow time traveler, I trust you.”
“Aradia. You two are just children. No matter how much hope you have, you can’t think that a bunch of children can beat someone like him,” the Doctor stepped forward to touch her shoulder. “Please.”
“No. You’re right, Doctor. We are just a group of children who wanted to play a game. But you’re underestimating my friends and I. We can become gods with unimaginable powers. That is on my side, at least,” she removed his hand and patted it. “That is all I can ask for now.”
“Surely you don’t think we’re just going to leave you,” Amy said, stepping forward to stare at the two trolls.
“No. The Doctor has matters to address with someone. And I think now would be the best time to do so. Without her, we have a better change against Lord English.”
The Doctor furrows his eyebrows for a moment and then he suddenly knows exactly what the girl is talking about. “You can’t possibly mean… how is she even still alive, in reign of Alternia?”
“She’s like you, Doctor. A very long time to live is ahead of her, especially since she has no heiress left to take over for her. Our Empress will live much longer. And she’s working for Lord English,” Aradia flaps her wings and take flight to look down at him. “If you have any hope for us, you’ll go and see her.”
Then Aradia and Sollux are disappearing into space, far beyond the Doctor’s sights. After a moment, he finally turns to look at his companions. Neither have much of a reaction, perhaps to shocked to register or maybe even just so used to life like this.
“Well, Ponds, looks like I’m visiting an old… friend.”
He leaves them in the TARDIS, saying this is something he needs to do on his own. Because it is, really. To confront her takes a lot more than he has with them blurting out questions and have too many feelings about too many things.
Her Imperial Condescension sits calmly on her throne, legs crossed and her trident resting against it.
When the Doctor walks in, she doesn’t glance up at first. In fact, she doesn’t glance up at all. Her wicked yellow eyes are focused elsewhere, watching something out of a rather giant window that doesn’t even appear to look out into Alternia. It is a Fourth Wall, as the Doctor has seen many others.
Her head suddenly snaps up and viscous eyes lock on him. When she recognizes him, her lips pull back in a terrifying grin. Or it would be, if the Doctor wasn’t already used to her trying to intimidate him.
“Your Imperial Condescension,” he gives an over exaggerated bow and come back up to see her standing up from the throne. Her eyes go toward the fourth wall for a moment before she smirks and smoothly strides toward him.
“Doctor,” she hmphs and stands at her full height when she is close enough to him. “I wonder, what exactly caused you to grant me with your presence? I though you said the next time we met, it would be my end. Here and now, well, that would be just disappointing.”
“Maybe another time, but I apparently have other business,” but just in case the empress wants to start strife, he reaches for his screwdriver. She watches him with a smirk.
“We’re not fighting today, dear. I have another fight,” and she watches his face change to a scowl. “Ah, yes, of course. That girl, the one with the ‘timey-wimey’ ideas, sent you, didn’t she? Foolish girl. Thinks she knows more than she does, but, then again, they all do.”
The Doctor eyes her for a few moments and then relaxes. “Tell me, Meenah, what have you been doing this whole time? Still destroying worlds and taking them by force when they fight back?”
“Says the man who helped me destroy his own world,” her eyes watched his face again. But it didn’t move from sudden stone cold.
“You and I both know that I didn’t willingly ask for any help, especially not from a teenage girl who wanted to kill off worlds that were perfectly fine on existing.”
“It has been quite an adventure, for me. So many worlds gone under my hand… and my master’s. Oh, but I’ve heard that you keep going to them and helping them back to civilization! I know I should have killed you when we first met,” she snarls but doesn’t make any aggressive moves toward him.
“Your master… would that be Lord English?” When she just smiles coolly at him, he understands the answer she’ll never give him directly. “Who is Lord English?” But she doesn’t respond to that either just leans her head back to laugh. “Meenah, who is he?”
“My, my, you really don’t know, do you? Well, that must put a wrench in your whole plan. The man doesn’t even know who he should be fighting! But you yourself should know, Doctor. This whole stream of events is all one fixed point. Nothing to change it, now,” she strides her way back to her throne and sits down, legs propped over one of the armrests.
“Meenah,” he snaps and follows her.
“Don’t call me that, dear. If I can’t know your real name, why should you get the privilege of calling me by mine? And don’t say because I gave it to you. I was desperate.”
“Meenah,” she grunts and glares at him when he continues to use her name. “Lord English. Tell me.”
She twists in her seat to smirk at him. “Lord English.”
“I’m telling you, since you’re sooo insistent.”
The Doctor gives her a confused look, stepping a little closer to her and glancing around. Except for them, there’s no one else in the room.
“He’s always been here, dear. Traveling through time and space, creating paradoxes and he doesn’t even know what he’s doing,” Meenah stands up so she’s practically up against him. Then she presses her lips dangerously close to his ear, chuckling. “But that’s quite fine with me, because he’s going to learn. Oh, he’s going to know… oh so very soon.”
The Doctor pushes her away, but she doesn’t stumble as he frowns at her.
“There’s something you aren’t telling me… and I don’t like it, Meenah,” he shakes his head at her before he turns to leave. “I don’t like it.” Meenah doesn’t move, arms crossed and watching him leave.
“Of course you don’t, dear. Because deep down, you know the truth of whom you are. You just don’t want to admit it.”