Our children will sing of the Doctor-Donna, and our children's children, and
the wind and the ice and the snow will carry your names forever.
He woke to pain and darkness, but the fact he was awake was startling in itself. Survival hadn't been something he'd expected to do; for once, Bialar Crais had no contingency plan.
Talyn's awareness was a small knot of fear in the back of his mind. He had no idea where they were, or in what sort of state. His own injuries were relativity superficial considering what they'd done. Considering he was supposed to died. In light of that fact, a few cracked ribs and a dislocated shoulder seemed a small price to pay.
Bialar dealt with the shoulder in short term and then leant back against the bulkhead until Command stopped spinning around him. Once the nausea passed, he hauled himself slowly to his feet and limped over to a console. His hands closed around the levers that would power Talyn back up. He hesitated, aware of how the damage might effect him, but knowing there was little choice. Bracing himself, he threw the switches up.
The surge of bleedback he expected did not occur. Instead, something tickled at his mind. It wasn't Talyn; it was separate… external somehow. Frowning, Bialar turned to the communications console and opened the long-range sensors. He didn't really expect them to work, not with the amount of damage Talyn had taken, so the music that flooded Command took him completely by surprise.
He froze, but his shock turned quickly to a wonder. There were words, but the translator microbes failed to convert them. Yet hearing the meaning wasn't necessary, some deeper part of him knew what it was and he felt his spirits rise on the hope intrinsic in the song.
There was a pull to the song, like distant gravity, and it tugged at him. Talyn had already shifted position, angling his trajectory towards the source much as he had done with the Siren Sun. That lure had been deadly and was enough to remind Bialar that some caution was necessary. He chewed at his thumb and considered his options.
While he had survived, he doubted he could go back to his former life even if he wanted to. No, that was all behind him; literally in smoking ruins. There was nothing and no one to hold him here.
And as easily as that, the decision was made. Activating the rest of Talyn's systems, Bialar ordered the DRDs to ascertain the damage to the ship and start repairs. He then aligned communications with the long-range scanners and took a vector. The source of the song was very distant and he knew he would have to realign the ship on occasion. But for now he had a destination.
"Follow the course, Talyn," he murmured.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The radio alarm burst into song. Donna Noble reached out and slapped it off. She rolled onto her back and stared at the ceiling, trying to recall the dream. But already it was sliding away from her, leaving just a hollow lost in her stomach.
Nothing new there, then, she thought bitterly to herself and got out of bed. The dreams were, according to her doctor, memories of the last year reintegrating. That didn't particularly explain why she still couldn't remember anything, or why she'd forgotten things in the first place.
Normality had returned since that morning when she'd woken up with a year of her life missing from her mind. Well, a sort of normality. She'd gotten a job, a permanent one, and she'd started going out with her mates again. But that didn't stop her mother treating her like she was made out of glass. It didn't stop her from catching the sad glances that her grandfather sometimes sent in her direction.
And the weirdest thing was that Wilf had stopped going up the hill. The telescope had been packed away and aliens were no longer mentioned. While the rest of the world had woken to the fact that Earth Was Not Alone, a conspiracy of silence seemed to have fallen over the Noble household. A silence that made Donna very uneasy.
She sighed and dressed in jeans and sweatshirt, pushing her feet into worn trainers before she trotted downstairs. There was a note on the kitchen table from her mother - she'd taken the car and gone shopping. The usual Saturday routine, then, she thought and put the kettle on.
"Granddad?" she called out.
When she got no answer, she assumed he was still in bed and got one cup from the cupboard. She made herself a cup of tea and then sat down at the table. Opened the newspaper and began to read the gossip column.
Normal as a person could get.
Donna picked up her tea and sipped at it, trying to ignore the hollow pit in her stomach. She didn't want normal; she wanted something more than that. For the past couple of months she had tried, tried so hard, but she wasn't right. There was a nagging sensation that she'd forgotten something important, that she was missing more than just memories.
She just didn't know what it was.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Bialar had lost track of time. Talyn's systems were thoroughly frelled and the amount of time that it had taken to fix them, even with the help of the DRDs, had run into arns. Several times he'd crashed into bed, utterly exhausted, while Talyn flew on.
They followed the song.
He still didn't understand the words, or the power they had over him, but the beauty of them was without question. They resonated deep inside his being, even when he was in near comatose slumber, and through every system on Talyn. In fact, the systems seemed to have attuned themselves to the rhythm.
Once, Bialar had been a soldier, an officer. As that man, there would haven been no way he would have done something so foolish as track and follow an unknown signal. He would have suspected a trap at worst, simply ignored it at best. However that man had died, in a way; expired on the Command Carrier as it burnt, and he was something new. The concept was both terrifying and freeing.
It was after three, or maybe four, solar days that Talyn woke him with a shriek.
The stars are disappearing!
"What?" Still half asleep, Bialar pulled himself out of bed and fumbled in the darkness for his clothes. "What do you mean?"
The answer was a sudden visual of space that made his head spin with vertigo. Blackness surrounded him and stars stretched out to infinity. But one by one they vanished, winking out of existence. The song in his head faltered, then came reverberating back, this time in a minor key, discordant and jarring. His vision cleared and he was back in his room.
There was only one thing he believed capable of erasing stars.
"Talyn, long-range scans on maximum," he ordered as he dressed quickly. "See if you can detect any unusual gravity fluctuations."
I don't detect anything. They're just… vanishing.
"Stars don't just vanish."
Bialar headed to Command. Once there, he checked over the consoles but as it was Talyn had said - nothing out of the ordinary, if he ignored the minor fact that stars were disappearing from the sensors. It had to be a glitch. Nothing else made sense. But the neural transponder still worked and he could feel every system; he knew they were running at optimum. Well, as optimum as they could get given the recent Starburst.
There is something at the outer limits of my sensors, Talyn reported suddenly. Closing rapidly.
Bialar got a sense of several objects headed in their direction. As they got closer and Talyn could scan further, he knew that the things were nothing experienced by Peacekeepers before, that there were over a hundred of them, and that they were no bigger than his own hand. The latter was of little import; he was far more concerned about the possible threat to Talyn and himself.
"Are they armed?"
Not that I can detect.
"Hmm." Bialar eyed the console and the progress of the unknown objects. "What's their intention?"
It was a rhetorical question, but Talyn answered it anyway.
I'm not sure, but they aren't slowing. I don't think they pose a threat to us.
"Let's be prepared in case, shall we? Bring us around."
The deck shifted beneath his feet as Talyn banked. With the ship facing towards the oncoming objects, Bialar could see them - a cloud of darkness that blotted out stars as it billowed closer. And closer. Then they streamed past, the cloud parting and enveloping Talyn.
Bialar moved to the viewscreen and stared. The objects were vaguely insectoid, with blue-green bodies about as big as his palm and tiny, iridescent wings. And they didn't even seem to notice the spaceship that they passed.
"Talyn," he said in a lowered voice. "Power down. Slowly."
The lights in Command dimmed.
Microts passed. In the silent darkness, Bialar watched the creatures as they whizzed past the viewscreen. He breathed slow, trying to make himself invisible, trying not to attract unwanted attention. Though it seemed they were unimportant in the greater scheme of whatever the creatures wanted. Bialar was perfectly happy about that.
They've passed, Talyn noted.
Bialar watched the cloud shrink against the stars and nodded.
"It would be interesting…" He paused and looked from the cloud to the stars. A frown creased his forehead and turned back to a console. "The vector they are on - it's the same as ours. I wonder… I wonder if they're following the same thing we are."
Maybe. Talyn sounded surprised. Bialar could sense the ship calibrating. It would seem so, but the source… is still unknown.
"I am aware of that."
I want to know.
Bialar smiled and reached up, placing his hand on the structure overhead.
"How badly?" he asked lightly. "Enough that you could manage a Starburst?"
It was a risk and he felt Talyn shudder, but then a sense of determination washed through the neural link. Electric surged along Bialar's nerves and he experienced his own moment of doubt, but then Command was flooded with bright light and the hybrid lurched.
Space warped around them.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
China chattered. Donna frowned at the cup trembling against its saucer, then felt a rumble. An earthquake? In Chiswick? It didn't seem possible. She snatched up the cup, but the shaking was so violent that tea sloshed over the rim. Shaking her hand automatically, the cup slipped from her scalded fingers and shattered on the floor.
And then the window exploded.
Donna jumped with a startled cry. With the window broken, she could hear the shouts and screams of her neighbours. She scrambled to her feet, knocking her chair over in her haste to reach the front door.
Outside, people crowded their doorways, staring upwards and speaking in loud, panicked voices. Wondering what all the fuss was about, Donna glanced up at the grey, cloudy sky. A dark cloud swooped and reeled. Starlings? she thought, remembering a nature programme her grandfather had watched once. But then the cloud dived and she saw that oh, no they were not birds.
The black swarm swept down the street, causing the watching neighbours to scream and dash back inside. The force of the swarm's passing buffeted at Donna and shook cars, making alarms go off and join the cacophony of noise. As they passed, she saw the blue-green glitter of their bodies as they passed on a blur of wings.
"What the-?" She stared after the things in horrified disbelief. "They're bugs."
A door slamming behind her made Donna hurry back inside. Her grandfather bustled down the hallway and she felt a wave of relief.
"Granddad, are you alright?" she asked as she hugged him.
"Of course, sweetheart," he laughed. "Why ever wouldn't I be?"
"There are bugs outside! Flying bugs! Didn't you see them?"
To Donna's surprise the look her grandfather gave the open door was oddly frightened, then he grabbed her hands and drew her further inside.
"Is there? Well, I'm sure it's nothing. Come in and we'll turn on the news, yeah?"
"Granddad, what's the matter with you? It's got to be something. I mean, they looked like them things off The Mummy. What if they eat people? Mum's out there!"
Donna broke away from Wilf and started for the door, only for him to grab her arm.
"Don't worry about it, sweetheart," he insisted. "Come on, come inside and I'll ring your mum. Everything will be alright. You'll see."
"No!" She shook off his hand and stepped outside. Glancing down the street, she saw the bugs had disappeared. "Look, they've gone for now. I'm going to go find mum before they come back."
She jogged down the path, ignoring her grandfather's pleas for her to come back, to go back inside, and went out onto the street. Most of their neighbours were still indoors, but some had come back to their doors and they watched her run past, their expression shocked.
And though her heart raced and her mouth was dry, and a part of her wondered what on Earth she was doing, there was another part that felt a thrill of excitement.
She lengthened her stride and ran.