30 April 2009
Osterhagen Station One
The small control station under the castle was as high-tech as the building above it was the opposite.
Martha shrugged off the Indigo device, dropping it into the corner as she made her way between the pair of computer controls that lined the metal walls. The air down there was cold and slightly stale, as if no one had been down there in a long time…which was very possible, since the only ones with any reason to be there before her had been the technicians who’d periodically checked on the equipment there. No one else had had the authorisation to be down in this control room.
Not until Martha, of course.
She really didn’t want to be there. She’d have preferred to be at home, with her fiancé and her family, letting others get on with saving the world.
However, that wasn’t her. It hadn’t been her in a very long time now, ever since she’d met the Doctor. Martha had to be out doing things, and not hanging about, waiting for things to happen. The Doctor had ruined her for a normal life, and yet she couldn’t be upset about it.
And so, there she was, taking her place in the uncomfortable chair in front of the main control console, inputting her authorisation code into the system, waiting for anyone else to answer and yet hoping no one would.
She didn’t have to for long.
There were five stations, interspersed all over the world. Each had their own dedicated communications system; five monitors before her, each one of them blank…until the one marked “China” flickered to life, revealing a young woman in a UNIT beret, terror reflected in her dark eyes even through the poor visuals.
“Osterhagen Station One,” she spoke with a faint accent, “this is Station Five. Are you receiving me?”
Martha had hoped that no one else had made it to the other stations. It would have been so much simpler to pull off her bluff with the Daleks if she didn’t have to deal with anyone else as well. She could only hope they wouldn’t get the requisite number needed to activate the program…
“I’m reading you, Station Five,” she answered, glad that her own voice wasn’t giving away her own fear. “We’re just waiting to see if anyone comes online.”
And then, as if summoned by her comment, another screen activated, this one marked “Liberia”.
The man on the other end of the connection didn’t look at all happy to be there; not that Martha could blame him, since she didn’t want to be there, either. “This is Osterhagen Station Four.” His voice was gruff, and Martha thought he’d have been bolting if he wasn’t under orders to be there.
“Then we have three, and that’s all we need.” Yes, it would have been easier to deal with this on her own, but at least no other stations had come online. That meant they couldn’t do a thing without her participation.
She hadn’t put her own version of the key into its slot yet. Martha hoped this wasn’t going to be necessary, and that she would be able to pull this off without destroying the planet.
She thought about Toshiko and the other Great Dragon Friends who’d been affected by the Earth being moved.
She thought of her Dragon, also affected, but not to the same extent. Her mind turned to his mating with Jack, a little over a month ago, and how happy they’d all been when the two had finally been able to commit their eternity to each other.
And then her mind went to Tom. Her rock, the one who believed in her whole-heartedly, who trusted her to save the planet again even though things looked far too bleak. He was with her family, who had survived the Earth ending once before, and who had gotten closer because of it. They were all counting on her to pull this off, this miracle she was contemplating.
It was a heavy burden to bear, one that she would never get used to. It hit her hard, that she was on her own, without her Dragon to watch her back, and to support her through what she knew she had to do. That didn’t seem right, and it was all she could do not to pull her phone from her pocket and call the Hub, wanting to speak to her best friend one more time before she took this awful step
“So,” the young Chinese woman said, her voice cracking, “do we do it?”
Martha wanted to say no, they weren’t. That UNIT had been wrong to even contemplate committing such a terrible act. To condemn the entirety of the human race – and the other races that called Earth their home – was wrong on so many levels it made her lose her breath and her heart throb painfully in her chest. Whoever had come up with this plan had been truly mad.
She was so going to sic Jack on them when this was all done.
If she was still alive at the end of it to do so.
No, she couldn’t think that. Too many people were counting on her, and she had to succeed.
But she wasn’t about to obey the orders she was given.
Both of the UNIT soldiers were looking at her through their screens, and Martha felt the weight of their regard just as surely as if they were in the same room with her. She sat up straighter in her chair, ready to take command, needing them to believe she was really going to do what she’d been told to do by her superior officer who, chances were, was dead and wouldn’t have to deal with the fallout.
Bastard, she couldn’t help but think, even though she’d been taught not to speak ill of the dead.
General Sanchez had been a bit of a jerk, but he hadn’t been a bad man. Still, Martha once again found herself wishing that Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart was still in charge, because even though she’d never met him she just knew he’d never have condoned something so terrible as the Osterhagen Project.
“I do not want to be known for this,” the man snarled. “This is wrong.”
“We need to follow our orders,” the woman answered, not sounding so certain of that at all.
Maybe Martha did stand a chance after all.
“Listen,” she began, “I think we all know this is wrong. I want to do something about it, if you’ll go along with it.”
She had both of their attentions, she could tell. At that point they were most likely willing to do anything but go along with the orders they’d been given, and Martha wanted them to have the opportunity to still do what their commanding officers had told them to, instead of the course Martha wanted them to follow.
There was silence on both screens. Martha mentally crossed her fingers that they’d come to the right decision. “There won’t be any repercussions if you decide to do what I’m asking.”
“How can you guarantee that?” the man wanted to grasp at the straw she was offering so badly.
Martha suddenly felt very confident of what she was about to say. “I’m sure you’ve both been briefed on the Doctor?”
“Is he here?” the woman gasped, and Martha could see the hope blooming in her eyes.
“He is,” Martha confirmed. “And right now he’s working to save us all. I think we can help him.”
“How?” the man asked.
“I think we can bluff the Daleks into thinking we’re really going to detonate,” Martha answered. “They obviously want all twenty-seven planets for some reason, and if they think they’re gonna lose one…”
Silence once again greeted her words. Martha found herself chewing the inside of her cheek in sheer nervousness. If either of them chose not to go with her plan, they still wouldn’t be able to activate without the requisite three stations, but they could certainly make the bluff harder to sell. And if they did manage to do what she was suggesting, and the world came through this relatively intact, then she was in for a court-martial.
Well, maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad thing.
Martha had decided to stay with UNIT after the troubled start she’d had with the organisation, despite Ianto’s offer to step in. And it had gotten easier, even though she’d been transferred to New York for Project Indigo when it meant leaving her entire family behind.
She still had no idea why the brass had decided to read her in on the Osterhagen Project, knowing her background as they did. Her history with the Doctor alone should have negated their confidence in her to carry out her orders. But then Colonel Mace had always claimed to see something in her, something that Martha herself hadn’t been aware of, and he’d said he trusted her with the information on the place and the codes needed to activate the weapon.
That trust had been passed along to General Sanchez. The man might have been annoying and in a couple of ways condescending, but Sanchez had trusted her as well. He’d given her the key as he’d sent her on her way, to find the Doctor and try to stop things from going too far.
But it had all started with Colonel Mace, who should have realised that she would never even consider that destroying the world was a good idea, when she’d spent a year of her life walking it in order to save it.
And then it hit her, as she was sitting in that too-hard chair, waiting for her counterparts from different countries make up their minds.