Rebecca Goodman sat at her desk, taking copious notes upon the French Revolution, despite the fact that she already knew everything she needed to know about it for her class plus some. It was as if she already knew everything she was learning in school. The knowledge was already in her mind somewhere. It glowed dimly, much like a dying ember, but nevertheless it glowed. She took the notes to distract herself from her past and to fit in amongst her peers, at least attempt to make it look as if she worked for her near perfect grades. In fact, they would be perfect if Rebecca didn't purposely get a question or two incorrect.
She didn't belong. Not at her school. Not at home. Not anywhere at all. Not until she met the man who could show her the stars and uncover the truth about her past. He showed her so many impossible things, but it was real and she felt as if she belonged for once.
“Ms. Goodman?” Her teacher questioned reading off a memo.
“Yes sir?” she asked.
“You must pack up your things and report to guidance. It’s been a pleasure teaching you Rebecca.”
“What do you mean by that sir?” she asked, gathering her things from the desk.
“Congratulations Ms. Goodman. You’ll see!” He said, almost ominously. Rebecca shook her head and exited her room and walked the halls towards the guidance office, wondering what could possibly be going on.
“Rebecca, good, you've arrived. Doctor Snyder is here to speak with you.” Principal Jenkins said proudly, gesturing to the elderly gentleman next to her. Her archaeology teacher, Professor Song stood there smiling widely at her.
“I’m sorry but who are you sir?” she queried, slightly confused by the presence of the strange man.
“No, forgive me for not introducing myself. I am Doctor Alonso Snyder, head of the archaeology department at the University of Oxford.” Rebecca’s jaw dropped. This couldn’t be happening. It must be a dream. She had applied for the internship months ago, writing the paper for the application out of pure boredom because she had been assured extra credit in her archaeology class that she didn't need.
“Congratulations Ms. Goodman you've been selected to join my team at our current dig in the Mojave dessert. Your paper on the demise of the Anasazi people was simply inspired. It was superb and we’d be thrilled to have you on our dig.”
Rebecca’s normally stoic expression quickly changed into one of sheer joy.
“Really sir? Oh my goodness! I don't know what to say! I cannot begin to thank you and the University for this incredible opportunity sir!” Dr. Snyder just laughed.
“You’re most welcome my dear. But really we must be going right now. You’re things are already at the camp. You’re mother sent them ahead of you.” Rebecca’s smile dropped.
“Of course she did.” Rebecca replied sadly. Her mother had been looking for a way to get rid of her since childhood, for a reason Rebecca never knew.
“Principal Jenkins has agreed to grant you your diploma early so you can focus solely on your work at the camp site. I hear you have quite the knack for languages. Anyway here my dear,” he passed her a large envelope.
“This is an acceptance letter to the University of Oxford. You have been admitted with a full scholarship for when you finish your internship at the site. It’s yours for the taking Ms. Goodman.”
“I …”she gazed over to Professor Song who nodded, relieving some of her hesitation. “I accept Dr. Snyder. Thank you so much. I cannot begin to express my gratitude.” She said the smile returning to her face. “When do we leave?”
“We shall take our leave in a few minutes. Just say your goodbyes to your friends and such. I’ll be here waiting out front you.” Rebecca’s eyes met Professor Song’s and the two of them walked down the hallway together.
“How many strings did you pull to get me this opportunity?” Rebecca asked.
“None. I don’t understand why you don’t think that you deserve this. Dr. Snyder called me to see if I had any students or knew anyone in the field capable of processing or working for them and I immediately thought of you. Rebecca, despite your horribly low self-esteem, you are the brightest, most brilliant mind I have ever had the privilege of teaching.”
“What if I mess up?” Rebecca asked nervously.
“You won’t. You’ve always been… I’m trying to find a way to put this nicely Rebecca. But you’re a goody two shoes. You’ve always been strict with your adherence to the rules. It’s time to go out on your own and bend them and live your life without worry about what anyone else thinks. So please go out and take this chance and then take another. You are going to be brilliant, sweetie.” Professor Song hugged her tight. “Now go out and take the universe head on.” She hugged her one more time before sending her out to Dr. Snyder.
They got into the cab and Rebecca waved goodbye to Professor River song, and everything she’d ever known.
Rebecca stared out the window of the jet, her eyes watching the clouds on her flight from New York to California. She was a long way from her home but she couldn’t have cared less. She was away from her mother’s hateful remarks and would never return to live in such a toxic place again.
A new life waited for her out there in the Mojave Desert. A life of adventure and learning and it was just a few hours away. A small smile graced her lips. This was freedom. The plane landed at the airport and as soon as they had gotten their luggage, Rebecca and Dr. Snyder were ushered into a Jeep. The driver an Irish man named Jonathan Fichera who remained silent throughout the two hour drive to the dig site unless Dr. Snyder directed a question at him.
“Here’s your room.” Jonathan said dropping her in front of a trailer that said “KUBLER/GOODMAN” on it. He left her outside alone. Here she was in the middle of the Mojave Dessert. Alone. But that was okay. Alone was nice for her.
“Let’s do this.” She muttered. Pushing open the trailer door, she banged into a suitcase.
“Sorry ‘bout that dearie.” A pale woman with ginger hair and what seemed like hundreds of freckles said as she moved it out of the way.
“Hey newbie, Welcome. Brigit Kubler.” She said offering her a handshake.
“Rebecca Goodman.” She shook the offered hand.
“I know. The rest of your things are in the back. I sleep in the right bunk. Are you hungry? I can take you to the mess if you want.”
“I’m okay right now. Thank you though.” Rebecca replied quietly as she moved her remaining stuff toward the back of the trailer.
“Alrighty then. You got orientation with the other newbie at ten tomorrow and I ain’t getting your arse out up and out of bed. So set your alarm.”
“Okay.” Rebecca began unpacking the suitcases of clothing her mother had sent ahead of her. She made a quick trip to the loo, changing into some pajamas and then crawled into her bunk to drift off to dreamland for a few hours. Rebecca never needed much sleep. If she got more than four hours a night then she was sleeping for an awfully long time but that night she did sleep. She slept for seven hours which was a miracle for her.
She awoke at 5:30 am and decided to dress as the sun would soon be rising over the Mojave Desert and Rebecca did not want to miss it. She scrambled out of bed and left her trailer to enter the already warm desert in search of the mess to get her morning coffee and watch the sunrise.
When she arrived at the mess hall, she discovered that she wasn’t the only one. A darker man was already there, cup in hand, pouring himself some coffee. Rebecca poured herself a cup and put in her two sugars and skim milk and sat on the terrace of the mess hall watching the sunrise. The swirling of the pinks and oranges across the sky was absolutely breathtaking.
“You’re new, aren’t you?” the man asked.
“Yes, I arrived here last night. I’m an intern for Dr. Snyder.” Rebecca replied quietly.
“Ah! Good ole Al. Here’s a tip for you though. Al Snyder is never wrong. Even when he is wrong, never point that out that he is wrong.”
“Gotcha’ I’ll keep that in mind. I’m Rebecca.”
“Akeem. What university are you from?”
“None, well Oxford I suppose. I graduated High School yesterday afternoon and when we are done with the dig I have a full scholarship to Oxford waiting for me.”
“Impressive. But you don’t have an accent. You aren’t from England are you?”
Rebecca shook her head. “No. I’m from New York, right outside of the city on Long Island. What about you?”
“Detroit. I work for the University of Michigan.”
“Nice.” Rebecca said as she watched the streaks of blue and purple fill up the sky.
“Come on then. I’ll give you the tour.” Akeem said as he helped Rebecca up. He showed her around the small camp.
“Here’s the interesting part though… the crash site.”
“The crash site? I was under the assumption that we were studying some prehistorical Mesoamerican societies here. Not plane crashes.”
“Not even a plane. It’s a capsule of sorts.” Akeem said gesturing to the hole in the ground. Rebecca walked closer and looked in the ground.
“An escape pod of sorts is my bet. The writing… it’s not any language of human origin for sure.” She said inspecting it.
“What is that panel? It looks almost like… a cryogenic tank of sorts.” She said.
“Good insight. We’re gonna try and remove it this morning and get it into the lab to get a closer look.”
“Rebecca! Glad to see you’re making your way around.” Dr. Snyder said joining the pair.
“Morning sir. Akeem was kind enough to show me around.”
“Ah good man! Rebecca this is your fellow intern, John Smith.” He said introducing a tall man with large ears and great blue eyes, wearing a leather jacket.
“Rebecca Goodman.” She said, although she was suspicious. What kind of name was John Smith? It was so overly generic that it had to have been an alias.
“Pleasure!” he said, his northern accent clearly present.
“John, come along for a tour, we’ll be working here later this afternoon.” Dr. Snyder gestured for him to follow. “You too Rebecca.”
“Coming sir.” She said giving a pleading look to Akeem who just cheekily smiled back at her heading off to his job. Dr. Snyder continued giving a tour to both Rebecca and John before he was called away for a conference call.
“You two enjoy brunch. I’ll meet you two here in a bit.” He said before rushing off toward his own trailer.
The two sat at a table with their food before Rebecca blurted out her question.
“Your name isn’t really John Smith is it?” The man chuckled.
“It’s a name I go by. Call me the Doctor.”
“And from where are you accredited?”
“I’m an alumni of Cambridge University. See.” He said holding up a blank piece of paper.
“No it clearly says Dr. John Smith...” he said.
“Sorry ‘Doctor’ it’s blank. I can see pretty well. Also how in God’s name are you wearing a leather jacket in this heat? I would be dying.”
“Eh, it’s a little toasty. Not too too bad. Just being in the open air and working in the sun is Fantastic!”
“Alrighty then Doctor.”
“So why are you here?” the Doctor asked.
“I applied a few months ago on a whim because honestly I was bored, had time and my professor offered me extra credit that I didn’t need. I wrote a paper on the disappearance of the Anasazi well rather their demise and submitted it. Dr. Snyder came to my school yesterday and here I am now.”
“So you know nothing about Aliens then?”
“No, nothing at all. I didn’t even know that there was anything Alien about this place till this morning right before I met you actually.” He gave her a grin when suddenly there was a scream and the two of them ran off toward the noise.
A giant Praying Mantis about eight feet tall had suddenly appeared after someone had hit the capsule.
“My God!” Dr. Snyder cried.
“The tank! She must have been cryogenically frozen in there!” Rebecca said. She looked up at the looming figure.
“WHERE ARE MY CHILDREN?” the creature shouted.
“IT TALKS!” Brigit said.
“You don’t say?” the Doctor said. “Your descendants have multiplied and spread far across this planet.”
“LIES!” Suddenly the creature grabbed Dr. Snyder and began to pull his head off.
“Mantis…. Praying Mantises. Come on Rebecca you know about them!” Rebecca said to herself. “Mantodea… supposedly evolved from proto-cockroaches of the cretaceous period… eat anything that small enough for them to capture but large enough to gain their attention!”
“You’re good!” The Doctor said. “I have one small suggestion though.”
“Yeah, and what’s that?”
“RUN!” The doctor yelled and began running away from the creature. Rebecca and many of the other camp laborers followed them but a few got into the Mantodea’s path.”
“We should be safe here for now.” The Doctor said as he stood beside the mess.
“Highly unlikely. This mantodea is not going to be afraid of a small puddle of water or a hose.” Rebecca said.
“What the hell is that?” Brigit asked.
“Rebecca’s right that is the Empress of the Mantodea or as you humans like to call them… praying mantises.”
“You have got to be bloody joking.” She said.
“No, trust me I’m the Doctor.” He said with a laugh. Rebecca rolled her eyes.
“What are her motives on Earth? If she’s the empress, then why come herself, wouldn’t it be easier to send someone else?” Rebecca questioned. “Then again it seems that Mantodea’s run on matriarchal tendencies and-“
“Mantodea are warriors. She’s a warrior empress but once again very, very good. Fantastic!”
“Thank you now what do we do?” Rebecca asked.
“DROWN IT!” Akeem yelled. “I do not that thing anywhere near me.”
“Not a bad idea. How do you suppose we do that?” the Doctor asked.
“All the hoses, we take them and shoot her with water and then-“
“Not gonna work. It’ll just anger her and she’ll possibly bite your head off next Akeem because you’re male and Mantodea’s are known for pulling off the heads of males.” She failed to mention that it was usually only during mating rituals but it was just a tad fun watching Akeem squirm.
“Once again she’s right; you’re really good at this.”
“Once again, thank you doctor but you can complement me all you want later when we freaking figure out how to stop this.”
“Do we have a swimming pool on camp by any chance?” The Doctor asked.
“Yes, of course we do.” Brigit said sarcastically, “right along with the five star hotel, spa and tiki bar on the beach!”
“Not helping Brigit!” Rebecca said. “How about a reservoir or sewage? Anything!”
“Well no not really. We’re a hundred miles from civilization.” Akeem answered.
“Can we just repair her ship and send her home?” Rebecca asked.
“Her home is gone. It was destroyed.” The Doctor said sadly, Rebecca saw the pain and what seemed like remorse in his eyes.
“Does she know that yet? That she can’t go back?”
“Dunno,” he said running a hand through his hair. “Might be wise to tell her though”
“THAT’S IF WE DON’T GET KILLED FIRST!” Akeem shouted.
“You’re not helping Akeem. If you aren’t going to say anything productive then SHUT UP!” Rebecca said. She turned around and saw the Mantodea fast approaching.
“Quick! Anyone have rope?” Rebecca asked. Someone tossed her a rope. “Doctor, hold the other side. We are gonna trip her and tie her up and then explain the situation before we make any brash decisions now. Got it?” she said sternly and the leather clad man smiled.
“On three then?”
“One.” Rebecca started.
“TWO THREE!” The Doctor said pulling the rope tight tripping the Empress of the Mantodea. He then rapidly tied her up.
“WHERE ARE MY DESCENDANTS?”
“As I said before, they have spread throughout the world. Your people are safe.”
“And my home?” the empress asked quietly.
“I’m so sorry. It was destroyed toward the end of the Time War.” The doctor said, with a slight quiver in his voice.
“It’s over then?” she asked. “Who won then?”
“No one. The Daleks are gone as well as the rest of the Time-Lords. Just me left.” That was what Rebecca saw in his eyes, the loneliness, and the scars from his past, something that haunted him.
“YOU DESTROYED MY PLANET! YOU MUST DIE!”
“THERE WAS NOTHING I COULD DO!” He yelled. Suddenly the empress burst free from her binds and was after the Doctor.
“I CAN FIND YOU A NEW PLANET! I’LL GET YOU A NEW HOME!” He yelled as he began to run, the Empress was hot on his heels.
“I WANT MY EMPIRE!”
“I CAN HELP YOU! PLEASE!” he said when suddenly there was a shot and the Empress collapsed.
“You killed her!” the Doctor yelled looking up to see Brigit staring him down with a gun in her hand.
“She killed Al!”
“That makes you about as good as she is then doesn’t it?” Rebecca said. “She was grieving the loss of her home and children!”
“It was an animal!” Brigit argued.
“And so are you.” Rebecca said shaking her head. She couldn’t look at Brigit so she turned her attention to the Doctor.
“Are you alright Doctor?”
“I’ll be fine. Always am.” He said.
“That is quite possibly the biggest lie I’ve ever heard.”
“Yeah well it’s what you’re getting from me right now. How do you know all that stuff about Mantodeas?” The Doctor asked, curious as to why this human girl seemed to know so much about mantodea and what to do. She seemed as if she was out of place in this world.
“I read. A lot. I guess I’m an insomniac; I don’t sleep much so I use that time to read anything I can get my hands on. It’s what brought me here. Fat lot of good that was.”
“You were meant to be here. The Mantodea would have killed everyone before we had the chance to tie her up.” Rebecca shrugged.
“What happens now? I can’t go back to school or even go back home.”
“Why can’t you go home?”
“My mother couldn’t wait to get me out of the house. She didn’t even bother to say goodbye to me before I left for an indefinite extended period of time and my dad honestly doesn’t care. I’ve been gone a day she’d throw me out the minute she saw me.”
“You could travel with me.” The Doctor said slowly. This girl was smart. She had a level head and could think on her feet. She would make a good companion.
“How do you travel?” she asked, curious as to how he could afford to travel a lot.
“Come I’ll show you.” He said leading her over to a rather small Blue box.
“You travel in a 1960’s police box from the UK?” she asked.
“This is a TARDIS! She can travel anywhere in the world and in time.”
“Time travel?”she asked skeptically.
“Yep!” he said popping the ‘p’. He opened the door for her and she was amazed at how it was bigger on the inside but kept it internalized.
“She’s beautiful.” Rebecca said quietly as she looked around the console room. The Tardis hummed softly in reply.
“She likes you.” The Doctor said with a smile. The Tardis didn’t always like everyone he brought aboard but had immediately liked the new human girl.
“Before I make my decision Doctor, I have a question.” Rebecca said.
“Is it always like this with you? Fighting aliens and such?”
“Sort of hoping it wouldn’t be. But yeah… pretty much.” She thought back to everything that Professor Song had told her just the day before. Go out and take the universe head on. And she was about to.
“I’m in.” she said with a smile.
“FANTASTIC!” He said with a great big dopey grin on his face.
“Let me just grab my things from my trailer.” She said quickly running off to her trailer to grab her jewelry box and her clothing. She returned to the Tardis with her bags and set them down when the Doctor gave her an apologetic smile.
“Normally I would let you pick where you go for your first trip but I just got a message on the Psychic paper I showed you before the blank one, that I’m needed in London. How ‘bout it then?”
“Let’s go!” she said with a smile and just like that the Doctor and Rebecca were off to have their adventures through space and time.