Piper awoke to the TARDIS shifting in turbulence.
"Damn it," she muttered, grasping the edges of the bed tightly, "not again!" She shifted slightly to turn on her lamp, and was startled when the room illuminated. The furniture was sliding across the floor, as if the entire TARDIS had been picked up by some sort of rogue tornado. She held tightly to the bed, and begged the world to stop spinning. She'd signed up for trips through space and time, not a never-ending carnival ride. The TARDIS kept spinning, and it seemed to be getting faster and faster. Piper felt nauseous. Then, the TARDIS hit the ground hard. The furniture jumped and Piper jumped with it. She landed back on her bed, and took a tentative step off of her perch and almost let out a scream of joy. The spinning had stopped and they had landed.
"Piper," she heard the Doctor say, "are you alright?"
"Fine," she called, "just a little dizzy."
"Would you like to see where we ended up?' the Doctor asked, poking her baseball cap clad head into Piper's room.
"Yes," she replied, and then paused a moment before adding, "I'm guessing you don't know."
"That is correct," the Doctor said, "come on, Pipes."
"Pipes?" Piper asked, raising her eyebrows.
"Thought that I'd try it," the Doctor replied with a small shrug, "is it awful?"
"No," said Piper, "but my dad calls me that."
The Doctor got an embarrassed look on her face that was way cuter than it had any right to be, and Piper added, "But it's fine, Doctor. You can call me that if you want."
The Doctor looked slightly confused, and then a triumphant smirk flashed across her face.
My god, Piper thought, I've created a monster.
Piper stepped out of the TARDIS and was greeted by the sights and sounds of modern Los Angeles.
"Well," said the Doctor, "that's strange. I could have sworn we ended up in some terribly faraway place, not early twenty-first century L.A." Piper surveyed the area, because she agreed. This was just too convenient to be true. Then, Piper noticed something that startled her.
"Doctor," Piper said, her voice wavering, "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore."
The doctor turned to her, "What do you mean?" And then Piper pointed to a large billboard. It read The King of Sparta and it had a large picture of Tristan McLean dressed in ancient Greek battle armor.
"Where are we, Doctor," Piper asked, biting her lip.
"I think that we've been transported to a parallel dimension," she said.
"Is that a bad thing?" asked Piper.
"Well," the Doctor replied, "I'm not entirely sure yet. The multi-verses are a strange place. Every time a decision is made, a universe splits off. This could be just like your world, save your father's acting career, but earth could also be ruled by aliens from some distant planet. The amount of changes is hard to predict, and what caused this universe to split off from the rest might not be what we expect."
"Every time a decision is made?" asked Piper, "so do you mean that every time that I decide to go to the mall, an alternate universe splits off from ours?"
"Well," the Doctor said, "it doesn't work exactly like that. It's only big decisions that have an important effect. There might be an alternate universe where you didn't decide to go to the mall the day that we met, or one where you didn't decide to travel with me in the TARDIS." Both of those possibilities sounded awful to Piper. She was glad she lived in her own universe.
The Doctor just kept listing off possibilities, "Or if the Axis Powers had won World War II, or if various alien species decided to invade earth while humanity was a fetus of a species."
"Alright, alright," Piper said, "I get it. You can stop now."
"Or if Christianity had never taken hold of the Roman Empire," she said, smirking, "or if-" Piper sent the Doctor a glare that would cause gods to quake in their boots. She stopped listing the various turning points that could have resulted in a universal split.
The Doctor straightened herself out and asked, "Would you like to look around a bit? See what caused this split?" Piper's glare died and she smiled.
"I'd love to," she said in response.
They walked the streets of L.A, bumping elbows with many people. The sun beat down on them, and Piper was glad that she had once again shed her skiing jacket. Now, she was clad in a black Fall Out Boy t-shirt and a pair of capris. The doctor was still dressed in her customary jeans, plaid shirt, black undershirt and navy Yankee's cap. Piper wondered briefly if the woman had ever changed clothes. A young girl, with a mass of girly brown hair bumped her head straight into Piper's chin.
"Are you alright?" Piper asked.
The girl took a strange earpiece out of her ear and replied, "I'm sorry, I wasn't paying any attention."
"What's that?" Piper asked, surveying the silver earpiece.
"Where have you been?" the girl asked, confused by Piper's ignorance, "it's only the newest in earphone tech from Castellan Co." The Doctor's eyes widened, as if the name brought back memories she hadn't revisited in years.
"Did you say Castellan?" the Doctor asked.
"Yes," the girl said, though she obviously meant more along the lines of so what?
"As in Luke Castellan?" she asked, her gray eyes serious.
"Yes," the girl replied, "he is the founder and CEO."
"Thank you," the Doctor said, "but my friend and I have to go."
"It's fine," she said, though Piper assumed she meant something more like you two are very strange.
"But, Doctor," Piper said, but the Doctor had grabbed her hand and was taking her to a nearby park bench.
"What the fuck was that," Piper demanded as the Doctor sat down on the park bench. She cradled her head in her hands.
"Doctor," Piper asked, her tone shifting from annoyance to concern, "are you alright?"
"Castellan," she muttered, lifting her head, "can it really be?" Piper put a hand on her shoulder.
"Who's Castellan?" she asked. The Doctor remained silent.
Piper turned to her, looked her straight in the eyes and said softly, "I can't help you if you won't let me."
"Luke Castellan," she said, "that was an alias that another timelord used to use, a timelord that went by the name The Hero." Piper knew exactly what the Doctor was thinking, perhaps she wasn't so alone?
"Do you want to check?" asked Piper, "we could go to a library, do some research?"
The Doctor looked at her and smiled, "Yeah, let's try."
They sat in the small, worn chairs in the public library in front of the prehistoric computer. It was perfectly silent and it smelled of old books. The Doctor typed Castellan Corporationinto the google search bar and the first result was the company website. The website's homepage showed a picture of the girl's earpiece, and then she clicked on the page that readCompany Information. It said, "Castellan Corporation is a company dedicated to enhancing users' technological experiences. We are based in Los Angeles, California at 1216 Hermes Street." The woman beside them clutched her earpiece in pain.
"I wonder what's wrong," Piper said aloud. The Doctor looked to the woman and then back to the screen. She grimaced as if she'd just experienced an unpleasant epiphany.
"Are we going?" Piper asked in a louder voice. The librarian glared at them. Piper shrunk down in slight embarrassment.
"Of course," the Doctor whispered, "do you even have to ask?"
After hailing a cab, the Doctor and Piper arrived at the Castellan Corporation's large skyscraper headquarters. It vaguely resembled that of Lotus Incorporated, but that was probably because Piper wasn't very knowledgeable about architecture. They opened the door, and were greeted to a large, open, front room. At the end of the room sat a man at a large, oak, desk and slightly behind him were various elevator doors.
"Can I help you," asked his low voice.
"Yes," the Doctor said, her voice chiming the way it always did when she had a plan, "my name is Annabeth Chase, and this is my associate, Piper. We have an appointment with mister Castellan to discuss marketing." The man looked skeptical, probably due to their casual clothing, but simply asked, "May I see some identification, please?"
The Doctor flashed him her physic paper and he replied, "Take the elevator to the top floor. His office is the only one up there." Piper hit the up button on the outside of the elevator, and a moment later, the doors opened. Piper stepped through and clicked the top button. She could hear Desperado by The Eagles playing faintly in the background.
"Annabeth?' asked Piper, "Where did that come from?"
"It's an old alias," she said, "but it's a bit odd, so people don't question it." That did make sense. It seemed that if something was too generic then it would attract more attention than something that was an abnormality. Piper heard the door chime and then the doors parted like the Red Sea. A blond man with a long, white scar across his eye sat at a large, ash desk.
"Who is it," he asked, but then he lifted his head from his papers. A look of recognition and disbelief crossed his face.
"Doctor?" he asked.
The Doctor was smiling, "Hero."
"How did you survive the Time War," he said, "I saw you die." There went Piper's theory that all timelords had British accents. The Hero spoke with a middle American speech pattern, something you might expect to hear in Kansas or Colorado.
"I'm from a parallel universe," said the Doctor, "one where you died."
His smile faded a bit.
"I see that you have a good business going," said the Doctor, "real posh."
"Yeah," he said gesturing to the room, "I've done pretty well for myself." Above his desk was a large television screen with a map of the world. The map was almost completely coated in red dots.
"And you haven't even seen the best part yet," he said, as he flipped a switch on his desk. Immediately, some of the red dots turned green.
"What's happening," Piper asked.
"Doctor," he said, "I thought that I was the only one left, I started going through with plans to repopulate us."
"Does he mean-" Piper asked.
The Doctor cut her off, "That's mad, Hero. You can't really mean you're turning humans into timelords through those silly little earpieces of yours."
"But I am," he said, a look of madness and triumph in his cold blue eyes, "Change the frequency flying into those earpieces, and BAM! It rewrites their entire genetic code."
"That's barbaric," Piper said, "won't that hurt?"
"Yes," the Doctor said, "Hero, tell me that you're joking now. Tell me that."
"Can't you see, Doctor," the Hero said, "this is the only way to save us. We won't be alone. It's insane, almost everyone from the United States to China has one. There will be more of us then there's ever been before."
And for a moment, the Doctor looked tempted, but then Piper interrupted, "but what happens to us. What happens to the people?"
"You won't exist anymore," he said, with a solemn look, "I'm sorry, but it's the way it has to be."
"You're suggesting the genocide of my entire race as if you've been forced to put down a dog," she said in a biting tone, "tell him he's crazy, Doctor. Tell him that you're going to stop him." The Doctor didn't respond. She seemed in a state of shock. Piper wasn't sure if it was because of the Hero's words or because it was he who was saying them. They seemed as though they had been friends.
"God damn it, Doctor!" she said, her voice cracking.
She turned her attention back to the Hero, though she felt that the Hitler might be a more fitting name and yelled, "Humans may not be timelords but I don't fucking care. We aren't worth less than you."
"One species is hardly too high a price to pay for the rebirth of my race," he said, "the extinction of yours will be an unpleasant byproduct, but entirely worth it."
The Doctor snapped out of her trance and then said, "Stop this, Hero. It's madness. It's genocide. Gen-o-cide, Hero, or damn close to it. There is no redemption once you've reached that point. You know that."
"Doctor," he said, "you're like my sister, but you need to understand that this is what's best for everyone. It's best for the timelords and the universe."
"Don't play god," she said, her eyes intense, like the swirling winds of a hurricane. The oncoming storm, Piper remembered and in that moment she didn't doubt it.
"Don't you dare play god now," the Doctor said, "that is titan talk. To toy with the lives of mortals like a child with a dollhouse, this isn't you, Hero. You aren't my childhood friend. This isn't you!"
He looked taken aback, but then he said, "But I can't stop it. The process has already started." Many of the red lights in the United States had turned green but Piper knew that they were in a process of metamorphosis. They would never be humans again, and many more could die if she didn't work quickly. She surveyed the room, and noticed that the switch was connected to a radio like device. It was an Apple brand plug and almost made Piper laugh, and she connected it to the computer. Piper was willing to guess that this was what was broadcasting the timelord DNA code across the board. She took out her i-pod and started playing an old Green Day song.
"Is this really the time," the Doctor quipped, but Piper had already unplugged the cable from the computer. The dots all went out, and she plugged in own i-pod.
"W-what did you just do?" asked the Hero, dumbstruck.
"I just changed your frequency," she said, feeling victorious, "now the people of the world are listening to Basket Case- not turning into timelords." Then Piper remembered the dots that had already turned green. They had almost certainly died, and she felt awful about that. But she had just saved the majority of the world from having their humanity forcibly removed.
"But," he said, "but I was saving the world."
"No," the Doctor said, "Hero, you were destroying it."
"I wasn't," he said, "I was bringing back our race."
"Being alone can drive timelords insane," the Doctor said, "come with us. Please, Hero. I can help you back to the right path."
"You make me sound like a lost sheep," he said and then his eyes lit up, "because that's what you think I am, isn't it? You aren't the Doctor I knew."
"Calm down, Hero," she said, "calm down." He drew a pocketknife from his pants pocket. Piper wondered for a moment if it was a sonic pocketknife. The knife's edge lit up, glowing a neon green color.
"Put the knife down, Hero," the Doctor said in a soothing but stern voice. He backed up, past his desk and to the window. Piper felt chills dance down her spine as he carved a circle in the glass. The Doctor ran towards him to stop him from doing what they all knew he would. The Hero kicked the circle of glass over the edge as the Doctor shouted, "Hero, no!" He jumped through the hole and started to fall to the ground. Piper started to look through the window.
"Don't," the Doctor said, "you don't want to see it." Piper averted her eyes before the Hero hit the pavement with a thud. She wondered if he could regenerate after this, but she doubted it. They were thirty floors up, and she presumed that his insides had splattered about the pavement. She shook the image from her mind.
The Doctor's eyes were wet with tears and Piper hugged her tightly.
In the Doctor's ear she whispered, "I'm sorry." The Doctor just brought Piper into a tighter embrace, taking comfort in the girl's form against her own. Eventually, the Doctor pried herself out of Piper's hug and the two stepped back into the elevator.
"So who said that," Piper asked as they stepped through the TARDIS doors, in an attempt to lighten the mood.
"What," asked the Doctor, "a lot of people have said a lot of things. You've got to be more specific, Piper."
"The 'toying with the lives of mortals like a kid with a dollhouse' thing," she said, "that sounded a bit like something from the Odyssey or something. One of those epic Greek poems."
"I-I don't know," the Doctor said, obviously rifling through her mind for the author's name, "I suppose it was me."
"It was pretty," she said, though she immediately regretted it. The Doctor's eyes glinted with pride and a smirk crossed her face.
"I am pretty good," she said, "aren't I? You should write that down."
"Oh God," Piper said, "I think that I just inflated your already over-sized ego."
"My ego's the perfect size," she said, "I'm just that fantastic."
Piper rolled her eyes and proceeded to not write it down.
"So where are we going next?" she asked, "Somewhere in our own dimension, I presume?"
"Yeah," the Doctor said, "I think that would be best."
"How about we go to the past again," said Piper, "that would be fun."
"I know the perfect place," the Doctor replied, a look of genuine happiness in her eyes that Piper hadn't seen since they met the Hero.