“Ethan, they’ve opened the panel.”
Ethan, who was still distraught at the destruction of the drones, snarled and headed towards the light, closely followed by Emily.
When they rounded the corner they found no sign of the woman, June. But Blackmore was still there. The panel to the core of the machine was open and Blackmore was tied up, right next to it, with the rope wrapped around one of the many large pipes coming out of the machine.
“She said my body was flooded with time energy,” he said, sweat dripping off his face.
“Untie him!” snapped Emily.
Ethan walked over to Blackmore but he shook his head. “No time. She’s put a gun inside the core. It’s powering up and is going to explode. The explosion will take out me as well and cause a huge explosion.”
“We have to stop it,” said Emily.
“There’s no time!” said Blackmore. “If I were you I’d get out now.”
“But what about you?”
“Leave me,” said Blackmore. “It’s all I deserve.”
Ethan peered into hatch that exposed the core. “We’ve got about a minute. We need to get out of here now”
And with that they turned and ran, leaving Blackmore still tied to the machine and dripping with sweat. He held back the tears as he angled his head towards the glow of the crystals.
“I’m sorry,” he said sadly. “I’m so sorry, Annie.”
The gun was glowing orange, the power building up to burst.
“It was for the good of the Human race,” he sobbed.
And then the gun exploded.
The explosion was massive. The entire machine, with Blackmore attached to it, blew to a million different pieces in a green cloud of light. The room shook with the force of an earthquake and anything left in the room evaporated.
Up above the Doctor and co were standing beside the TARDIS when the air shimmered and wavered. And then, as if they had always been there, people appeared. Normal, real-life people. Human beings starting out a new morning and getting ready to travel across the world to holiday destinations or simply going home.
The Doctor smiled. “June did it.”
Matthew looked back at the sky link which was no longer in pieces. “It’s fixed.”
“It only happened in that pocket universe. Inside the Shroud,” said the Doctor, thoughtfully.
June appeared from around the corner, grinning.
“Sacrificed himself,” said June. “He was a very brave man.”
The Doctor looked at her suspiciously. “Are you sure?”
“Quite sure. It was for the good of the Human race.”
“You know,” said the Doctor, “one day I’m going to have to pay Eyeglass a little visit. Especially if you have time travel technology.”
“I’m sure the General will be only too happy to meet you, Doctor,” said June, with a look that was almost inviting him to come along.
“One day,” he said quietly.
Ethan and Emily came bounding around the corner. They saw June and the Doctor and froze. June made a move for something in her pocket. It was a small, metal, pebble-like device. She threw it at the siblings and a blue force field appeared around them.
They snarled and hissed, trying to escape their prison, but to no avail.
“I’ll take these two back,” said June.
“They need putting back into the vortex,” said the Doctor. “Their natural habitat.”
“So they can escape again? Not a chance. The General will be very interested in meeting these two.”
“No, Doctor. You’re not in charge of this one.”
She then pulled out another device from her pocket and pressed a button. The air rippled in front of June, Ethan and Emily and a large, black vortex materialised before them.
Emily and her brother looked longingly into the blackness, transfixed by it.
“That’s a time corridor,” said the Doctor to Caroline, Matthew and Danny.
“A direct link back to the fleet,” she said, smiling. “I really must be going.”
“Stay out of this time,” said the Doctor, angrily.
“Oh, don’t worry. The General doesn’t tend to mess around with time, and we certainly don’t advertise our capabilities. The future is what we want. The future is ours.”
“Goodbye Danny,” smiled Emily. “I hope you find what you’re looking for one day.”
Danny frowned and then nodded to her.
June pressed another button on the device and she, Ethan and Emily were drawn into the time corridor. And then, with a flash, they were gone and the corridor had sealed.
Danny looked around him. “Did nobody else see that?” he said, indicating the few people that were bustling into the airport from the sky link.
“I think the Shroud is still hiding us a little. It’ll wear off in a little while though.” The Doctor clapped his hands together. “And now for you, Mr Cole.”
The Doctor had taken the TARDIS to the outskirts of Manchester to the house where Ethan and Emily had been living for the past few days. He had found the bodies of the original residents of the house locked in a shed at the bottom of the garden and had informed the relevant authorities
Matthew Cole had had no problem in leaving the airport now. The Doctor reasoned that he had been trapped there because he had was tethered there, but now the rest of him had arrived - I.E. The Doctor - he was now free to go. As long as he was with the Doctor. Which led to a new problem.
The Doctor had explained the Cole’s situation to Caroline and Danny, who had not quite gotten their heads around it, but had promised to try and understand.
Now the four of them were stood in the TARDIS, as it span through the vortex.
“Do you understand what we have to do?” asked the Doctor.
“I might not like it, but I understand,” said Matthew solemnly.
“If there was any other way…”
“I know,” replied Matthew, holding his hands up. “I just…I don’t know. I feel real.”
“You are real,” said the Doctor, “but you’re me. You’re what I will become and I can’t let you go out into the world again. I don’t know what would happen to you. You need to stay here, in the TARDIS.”
“In suspended animation?”
“Yes. In suspended animation.”
“Is it really necessary?” asked Caroline, unsure of whether locking Matthew away would help.
“Until I can get back to Aleena and attempt to ignite the regeneration process, then, yes, this is the only way.”
“But why not go back now?” asked Danny.
“Because, Danny, I have a promise to make.”
“Promise?” asked Caroline.
“Yes. I told you that I’d take you to Thornsby and find answers, and that’s exactly where we’re going. Thornsby 2012.”
“But the TARDIS is refusing to take us back there!” said Caroline, getting slightly worried that he might tear the ship apart.
“This is my time machine and I’m in control of it. And by hook or by crook we will get back to Thornsby.”
Matthew Cole lay in the booth, waiting to be put into suspended animation. He felt sad and he felt lost. He felt like he was nothing but a tool. A device for the Doctor. He felt real and he felt as if he should have his own life. His own chance at a life. He understood what the Doctor needed to do, but it wasn’t fair. He was a real person with real emotions and real desires…and if there was a chance to carry on living, he would take that chance.
Adrian Lennon locked the door of his parents house and crossed over the road towards the park. It was still pretty early and the grass was covered in frost. He took the winding path through the park and past the pond.
All he could think about was making sure he hit his target score at college today. He was not a big fan of algebra, but he had been studying for weeks and weeks for this and he certainly wasn’t going to let algebra let him down.
“An Open Letter To NYC” by the Beastie Boys had just started on his Discman when it suddenly went dead. He frowned and pulled it out of his pocket. He cursed himself for not bringing any spare batteries. He took the batteries out and tossed them in the park bin, taking the earphones out and putting the whole lot into his bag.
He carried on his walk towards college. He checked his watch and realised he was running late so decided to cut across the grass and through a cluster of bushes.
As he made his way through the bushes he snagged his jacket on a twig. He turned to untangle himself and when he turned back, standing there before him was a very faint, very shadowy shape. He jumped and almost fell back into the bush he had just un-snagged himself from.
He wasn’t entirely sure, but the thing seemed to look as though it was wearing some kind of cloak. The more he looked at it, the more it began to fade into view. And Adrian was sure that he could see snow flakes coming from above it’s head.
It reached out a faint, shadowy arm towards him and Adrian could hear it speaking.
“Poor little Adrian…”
There was a gust of wind. All was silent. And Adrian was gone…
Underneath St. James’s church in the centre of Thornsby, banks of computer’s bleeped and a map of the town was shown on a large screen mounted on a stone wall. A dot was flashing in the area of the park and people were scrabbling around, checking readouts and trying to get an exact fix on the flashing dot.
A striking, strawberry-blonde haired woman entered the room, her hands on her hips. She was frowning and looking up at the flashing dot.
“Okay, okay, settle down everyone,” she said.
The room calmed noticeably.
“Margot, what’s happened?”
Margot crossed over to the woman. “Jayne, we had another bleed-through.”
Jayne let out a big sigh, almost as if she was annoyed with the woman. “I gathered that.”
“In the People’s Park area. Just for a minute.”
Jayne crossed over to the map on the screen and folded her arms. “Do we need to send in a clean up crew?”
“Not this time,” said Ben, looking up from the his own computer screen. “It faded back.”
“Then what’s this?” said Jayne, tapping on a red indicator on the screen.
Margot looked a little shifty and then cleared her throat. “It took someone.”
Jayne closed her eyes and sighed.
“There wasn’t enough warning,” said Margot desperately.
Jayne didn’t respond.
“If there was any way-”
Jayne interrupted, her voice stern. “What is our job here? What do we do?”
Jayne looked at all of them, surveying the entire room. “We look for signs. We look for signals. Anything that can help us to prevent people being taken.”
“To be fair,” said Ben, “we haven’t had a disappearance in two years.”
“Then why did that change today?!” said Jayne, almost shouting.
Ben shrunk back into his seat.
“It is our fault that this is happening,” she continued, “and we will stay here until the day that we can fix what we’ve done. They will come through, using any means they like. We all remember 1998, don’t we? We didn‘t even know about that until somebody else told us!”
She turned to leave and Margot grabbed her arm. “Jayne, we can send someone to look,” she said, almost a whisper.
“No,” said Jayne. “It’ll be too late now. But we need to be more careful, Margot. I feel there are worse days to come.”